Prize Recipient

Recipient Picture

Suraj Cheema
University of California, Berkeley


"For atomic-scale design of ferroelectricity and negative capacitance in ultrathin HfO2-ZrO2 films on Si."


Suraj received his B.S. in 2012 from Columbia University in the Applied Physics & Applied Mathematics department, where he was awarded the Francis Rhodes Prize. Suraj researched spin transport phenomena with Prof. William Bailey at Columbia and later magnetoelastic robotics at Philips Electronics. Suraj obtained his Ph.D. in 2021 from U.C. Berkeley in Materials Science under the supervision of Prof. Sayeef Salahuddin, where he was awarded the U.C. Chancellor’s Fellowship and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Suraj’s Ph.D. research included the thinnest demonstration of ferroelectricity and nonvolatile memory operation in any material system, notably in the conventionally nonpolar HfO2-ZrO2 system on Si. Suraj then developed a negative permittivity dielectric demonstrating the negative capacitance (NC) effect in an ultrathin HfO2-ZrO2 superlattice. This result not only uncovered new ferroic origins to the NC effect, but also marked the first demonstration of capacitance enhancement of 2 series dielectrics on Si, establishing NC as a viable paradigm for advanced Si computing. Suraj later interned with MIT Lincoln Laboratory to integrate NC into U.S. defense foundry technology. For his Ph.D. work, Suraj has received the MRS Graduate Student Gold Award, the DARPA Riser Award, and the APS Greene Dissertation Award. Currently, Suraj is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Electrical Engineering at UC Berkeley, exploring the physical limits of NC for energy-efficient electronics and energy storage.