Professor Deji Akinwande is an associate professor in electrical and computer engineering, and a faculty Fellow of TI/Jack Kilby endowed Computer Engineering department in the Cockrell School of Engineering, University of Texas Austin.
Deji was born in Nigeria and grew up in Allen and Opebi axis in Ikeja, Lagos. His father, Mr. Duro Akinwande was the former Financial Controller of Guardian Newspapers Limited and his mother, worked with the Ministry of Education. Influenced by parents who were both educated and professionals, he grew up to love books, read and learn. According to his dad, “Deji’s love for books and learning is legendary.” He attended Federal Government College, Ido-Ani where his flair for Engineering became apparent . He left for America after he finished secondary school in 1994 and graduated with a B.S/M.S. combined degree in Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics from Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, USA. Deji completed a thesis on the physics, chemistry, materials and electronic properties of carbon materials that earned him a PH.D from Stanford University in 2009.
He gained industrial experience designing and testing analog circuits from MHz to 110 GHz for network analyzer and signal generator instruments at Agilent Technologies in California. He subsequently worked at XtremeSpectrum, Freescale and Motorola on the modeling, design and testing of the first commercial 100 Mb/s ultra-wideband receiver chip.
In 2015, Prof. Akinwande created the first transistor out of silicene, the world’s thinnest silicon material, and continues to work to advance the capabilities of computer chips and other electronics. According to his university’s website, he is one of the top researchers in the world in the areas of graphene, silicon electronics and 2-D nanomaterials for use in flexible electronics.
His research work is focused on two aspects of electronic technology; one aspect is making more energy efficient electronics, so that everyday devices such as laptops, smart phones and mobile gadgets can last say a week on a charge rather than a day. The second aspect is in making electronic products on plastic sheets. This will enable foldable, bendable and stretchable computers, phones and display devices that are much cheaper, more environmentally-friendly and more robust, against all sorts of common but expensive hazards such as drops. These benefits derive from the outstanding properties of plastics. For example, nanotechnology on plastics could lead to smartphones for N10,000 compared to N100,000 for current products. Another example is you can have a small plastic smartphone that you could unfold into a bigger tablet to watch videos.
In achieving this feat, Prof. Deji was nominated alongside 105 other distinguished researchers was awarded the highest honour bestowed on scientists and engineers by the American government. The award is offered to scholars whose research are considered innovative and beneficial to society. Each of them received a million dollar prize to fund their research.
President Barrack Obama described Akinwande, and other winners of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) as scientists “leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness.”
“I have a permanent interest for collaborative projects in Africa and Nigeria specifically. Since 2008, I have been exploring opportunities to contribute to technology and development. Recently, specific opportunities have been identified with two institutions, one in Lagos and another in Ondo State. I am now planning an extended visit to help the projects along, which are focused on commodity technology for health and another on industrial nanomaterials. Similarly, I have a deep longing to collaborate with fellow educators in Nigeria on post-secondary learning, which is very important for future advancement because the seeds of today are the fruits of tomorrow. I welcome correspondence from interested parties in Nigeria” says Prof. Deji.
Various awards received by him include U.S. Presidential (PECASE) Award, 2016, IEEE Nanotechnology Early Career Award, 2015, Engineering School Nominee for Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, 2015, TI/Jack Kilby Endowed Faculty Fellowship, 2013-present, IEEE Senior Member, 2013, IEEE NANO Geim and Novoselov (Inaugural) Graphene Prize 2012, NSF Faculty CAREER Award 2012, DTRA Young Investigator Award 2012, 3M Nontenured Faculty Award 2012, Army Research Office Young Investigator Award 2011, Office of Naval Research Grant Award 2010, Stanford Future-Faculty DARE Fellow, 2008-2010 (12 fellows selected out of 110 senior Ph.D Candidates from all the Schools at Stanford University) amongst others.