NeuroComputing and Hardware Security (NeuroCHaSe) Group

Department of Electrical Engineering,

Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

Let's talk about me and my journey

I was born in Patna, Bihar, a culturally rich and historical city located on the southern bank of river Ganges, on 23rd December, 1993. Patna (also known as Pataliputra) used to be the capital of the Magadha empire during the reign of Ashoka the Great who patronised Buddhism. Bihar not only hosts the world's first university Nalanda University which attracted students and scholars from Korea, China and central Asia but also played a major role in flourishing of three religions. While Lord Mahavira, the 24th savior and spiritual teacher of Jainism and Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru and founder of Khalsa Panth were born in Bihar, Lord Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya, Bihar and started Buddhism. In present times, Bihar is renowned for producing largest pool of bureaucrats in India (despite this, I din't prepare for Civil Services. Surprised? Don't be).

I completed my primary, secondary and senior secondary education from Dayanand Anglo Vedic (D.A.V) public school where I was also taught Vedic mantras, prayers and principles of Arya Samaj.

I was fascinated by the treatment given to a senior who qualified for IIT-JEE when I was in class X and decided to prepare for IIT-JEE (Honestly, that was the only reason!).

I secured the first rank in a state-level exam held for the preparation of IIT-JEE known as Genius-40 and was awarded a laptop (that is not as exciting as it sounds since I had to use that graphics card-less laptop till B.Tech final year which implied borrowing laptop from friends to play CS, GTA and NFS!).

I somehow managed to qualify IIT-JEE with an all India rank, AIR (popularly known as "hawa" at IIT BHU and used extensively during the introductory sessions) of 3,894 despite adolescent distractions (if you know what I mean!). I joined the department of Chemical Engineering at IIT (BHU), Varanasi for my Bachelors and got my department changed to Electronics Engineering after B.Tech first year. I was fascinated by the amazing world of analog and digital communication and signal processing (No, semiconductor device physics was not my first love!). I also participated actively in robotics events and grabbed the 2nd prize for our "mischievous" line follower robot in Technex'11, the annual tech-fest of IIT BHU. Apart from robotics, I used to be the opening bowler in the cricket team of Electronics Engineering Society which won the gold medal for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014.

It was during the B.Tech final year that I found my soulmate "semiconductor device physics" while working on my bachelor's thesis with Prof. Satyabrata Jit. During my B.Tech project under his supervision, I realized that I was more inclined towards research and had a passion for teaching. I got inspiration from my professors and decided to pursue an academic life rather than grabbing a conventional MNC job.

(Out of nowhere) I secured the first position in B.Tech at IIT (BHU) and was awarded four gold medals and several cash prizes (this really boosted my confidence and chances of getting research positions).

Subsequently, owing to my interest in research, I joined the Integrated Electronics and Circuits (IEC) M.Tech programme at IIT Delhi (one of the best M.Tech programmes in India). At IIT Delhi, I was taught principles of VLSI by some of the most brilliant professors I have ever met.

After completing the required credits with a DGPA of 10.0, I decided to convert my M.Tech programme to Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof. Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar, a highly respected professor and an eminent researcher in the area of nanoelectronic devices (currently the vice chancellor of JNU).

MJK sir, as we lovingly address him, not only inculcated the rudiments of device physics but also taught me the art of doing research. Apart from academics, his teachings on leading a simple and disciplined life and following ones passion is something that I look forward to inherit. Owing to his constant encouragement, support and independence while selecting research problems, I managed to submit my Ph.D. thesis in November 2017, 3 years and 4 months from the date of joining IIT Delhi with several publications in IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices (considered one of the most reputed journals in our area).

During my Ph.D., I also worked with Prof. Manan Suri on exploiting RRAM devices for hardware security applications which enabled me to broaden my research horizon. The work which originally started as a term paper in his course on non-volatile memories led to several publications in reputed journals and conferences.

Owing to my interest in spintronics, I also worked with Prof. Debanjan Bhowmik on micromagnetic simulations of skyrmions on a nanotrack.

Apart from this, I wrote a book on Junctionless Field-effect Transistors, published by the reputed Wiley-IEEE press, while waiting for my thesis reviews. I finally defended my thesis in March, 2018.

Owing to my academic record, I was able to secure post-doc positions in several reputed institutes such as IMEC, Belgium, NUS, Singapore, UCSB, USA, etc. To expand my research horizon and work on projects with immediate industrial applications (something which I missed during my Ph.D.), I joined University of California, Santa Barbara for post-doc under the guidance of Prof. Dmitri "Dima" Strukov, who fabricated world's first "memristor" at HP labs.

Thanks to Dima's support and the beautiful ocean-view office at UCSB, I was able to venture out in an altogether new field. I also look forward to inherit Dima's diligence: he is one of those researchers who still gets his hands dirty on the projects along with his students.

I somehow managed to return India and join the department of Electrical Engineering at IIT Kanpur as an Assistant Professor amid COVID-19 travel restrictions. This webpage is the only productive work that got published during my quarantine period (Vanvas would be more appropriate term to describe my quarantine period).

Besides academics, I learnt classical vocal music since childhood and even earned a "Prabhakar" degree in classical music. I play cricket whenever I get an opportunity and also go to gym regularly to stay fit (still I dont get muscles on biceps or triceps!)

For researchers/prospective candidates: click here to read an excerpt from my Ph.D. thesis.

To lead a happy life, it is important to have a supportive and loving family. I am blessed to have such supportive parents who not only fabricated me but also showered continuous love and care throughout my journey. My father Dr. Ravi Ranjan Sahay retired as an additional commissioner in the commercial taxes department in Patna (but he never forced me to prepare for civil services) and my mumma Manisha Sahay is a homemaker (I strongly believe that managing the house is the most difficult profession). My sister Saumya holds a B.Tech in Computer Science Engineering and M.B.A from IIM Lucknow. She is currently working in GSN games. I met my fiance Shrishty Srivastava on 18th September 2021 and we got engaged on 28th October 2023. Without them none of my accomplishments would have been their worth.
I believe in the following quotations:

"Life is unfair. Sensible persons take what they get and find a way to work around it. They don't sulk in a corner."
Zhu Rongji (Chinese Premier)

"To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves ...let us be above such transparent egotism."
Will Durant

"One should realize that ideas are never new. However brilliant, every idea is always based on previous knowledge."
Andre K. Geim (2010 Nobel Prize winner for Physics on Graphene)
(A simple interpretation for prospective students: literature survey is really important to get new ideas.)

"You too can positively impact our world. Be assured, it won't be easy, and fame may never come your way, but the satisfaction gained from a life of creative work will be immense."
Lynn Conway; author (together with Mead) of the book - Introduction to VLSI Systems.