Deblina Sarkar

Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences; AT&T Career Development Professor
  • Nano-Cybernetic Biotrek

AT&T Career Development Chair Professor 

Deblina Sarkar is an assistant professor at MIT and AT&T Career Development Chair Professor at MIT Media Lab. She heads the  Nano-Cybernetic Biotrek research group. Her group carries out trans-disciplinary research fusing engineering, applied physics, and biology, aiming to bridge the gap between nanotechnology and synthetic biology to develop disruptive technologies for nanoelectronic devices and create new paradigms for human-machine symbiosis. The two main research directions in her group are: 

  1. To develop disruptive technologies for ultra-low power nanoelectronic devices as energy efficient hardware for Artificial Intelligence
  2. To merge such next generation technologies with living-matter to create new paradigm for human-machine symbiosis in order to transform health-care.

Sarkar is the inventor of the world’s thinnest channel (six atoms thick) quantum-mechanical transistor, which overcomes fundamental thermal limitations, could lead to energy reduction by more than 75%, and allows dimensional scalability to beyond the silicon-scaling era. Her research also showed for the first time that employment of atomically thin flexible 2D-materials and quantum mechanical transistors can lead to low-power nanoelectronic biosensors with extremely high sensitivity and the potential for single-molecular detectability—greatly beneficial for wearable/implantable biomedical devices and point-of-care applications.

Apart from low-power electronic computation, Sarkar is also passionately curious about biological computational systems—especially the brain—which can be thought of as an ultimate example of a low-power computer. She has developed the technology which deciphers biomolecular building blocks of the brain, which previously remained invisible. This technology can help in elucidating the fundamental codes of brain computation. Researchers around the globe are currently employing this technology to answer fundamental questions in biology and to understand neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Autism, Schizophrenia and Parkinson’s diseases. Recently her team has developed the first ultra-miniaturized antenna that can work wirelessly inside a living cell in 3D biological systems. This technology can explore and augment the mysterious inner environment of the cell and can bring in the prowess of information technology inside a living cell to create cellular scale-cyborgs!

Her PhD dissertation was honored as one of the top 3 dissertations throughout USA and Canada in the field of Mathematics, Physical sciences and all departments of Engineering. She is the recipient of numerous other awards and recognitions, including the Lancaster Award for best PhD dissertation at UCSB, Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 from India, NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, the IEEE Early Career Award in Nanotechnology, Innovative Early Career Engineer by National Academy of Engineering, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award with the highest and rarely achieved impact score, the MIND Prize and the Science News' 10 Scientists to Watch

Sarkar’s long-term goal is to achieve seamless integration of nanoelectronics into biological systems to incorporate functionalities, not otherwise enabled by biology, and thus, transcending us beyond our biological limitations.

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