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Boise-based memory chip inventor among world’s most prolific patentees

September 11, 2018


An inventor based in Boise, Idaho is among the top-ten most prolific patentees in the world.

Gurtej S. Sandhu is a senior fellow and director at Micron Technology, a producer of memory chips and dynamic random access memory. With almost 1300 patents to his name, Sandhu recently surpassed famed American inventor Thomas Edison’s count of 1093.

At Micron, Sandhu’s focus is on process technologies used in semiconductor chip manufacturing. The bulk of his patents come from his ongoing research into how to fit a greater number of memory cells onto chips in order to optimize efficiency. In what has come to be a common intellectual property arrangement, Micron owns the patents for Sandu’s inventions and he and his colleagues receive bonuses for their inventions.

Sandhu’s three decades of invention at Micron are a paradigmatic illustration of Moore’s Law, the axiom that the number of transistors on a given unit of area in an integrated circuit doubles every year, and computing power with it. One of the techniques Sandhu has pioneered involves the three-dimensional stacking of memory cells previously bounded by the two-dimensional area of a chip.

In his current role, Sandhu manages Micron’s end-to-end R&D process. Sandhu is also heavily involved in mentorship and education through Micron’s relationship with Boise State University.

Before beginning at Micron, Sandhu received his PhD in physics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. When he joined the company in 1989, it was a small startup facing competition from Japanese and larger American competitors.

During Sandhu’s time at Micron, the high-tech manufacturing industry has undergone major shifts. The Boise Micron hub has shifted from being primarily a manufacturing site employing almost 12,000 workers to being an R&D hub of roughly half that workforce. The majority of the company’s consumer-bound chips are now manufactured in Virginia, Utah, or Asia.

Booming investment into artificial intelligence and big data technology is expected to drive a steady increase in global demand for memory hardware.


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