Ethiopian Researcher Solomon Assefa Named Among Top 35 Innovators Under 35

Solomon Assefa
Solomon Assefa

AFRICANGLOBE – 32 year old Ethiopian genius Solomon Assefa has been named as one of the top 35 innovators under 35 by the influential MIT Technology review magazine.

Solomon is a researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, and he is working on chips that communicate with pulses of light instead of electrical signals could lead to computers that are more power-efficient than today’s best machines and up to 1,000 times as fast.

Solomon has developed a new way to make a photodetector, a very sensitive device that amplifies optical signals and converts them into electrical signals that can be shuttled around in a microprocessor.

Ordinarily, photodetectors are made using a process called chemical vapor deposition. But sticking with this process for chip-to-chip connections would make microprocessor manufacturing prohibitively expensive.

Instead, Solomon seeds germanium onto a silicon wafer, and then melts it to achieve the regular crystal structure that makes for a good photodetector material. He has also determined when in the chip manufacturing process the photodetector should be added in order to get the best performance possible without degrading the surrounding electronics.

Dr. Solomon Assefa is a member of IEEE, OSA, and APS. He has filed over 25 patents, published over 30 articles in technical journals and 60 conference proceedings, and delivered over 30 invited presentations. He has also received a Technical Accomplishment Award and several Invention Achievement Awards from IBM.

He received a B.S. degree in physics, as well as B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) in 2001 from MIT. He joined IBM in 2004 after receiving a Ph.D. degree from MIT for his research on novel passive and active photonic-crystal devices on III–V and Si-based platforms. He was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.