Jain retires from ECE ILLINOIS after long career in industry, higher ed


Brad Petersen, ECE ILLINOIS

Kanti Jain (PhD ’75) retired from ECE ILLINOIS this summer after a 30-year career in industry and a nine-year career as a faculty member at Illinois.

Kanti Jain
Kanti Jain
He has made many contributions to microelectronics, optics and other fields, including the invention of laser lithography that is the dominant technology used worldwide in the production of computer microchips. He also developed technologies for large-area lithography that are now widely used in the production of flat-panel televisions and displays.

“In all of these contributions, I am proud to highlight the important role played by my graduate education at ECE ILLINOIS and the Department of Physics,” Jain said, as he studied within both departments as a graduate student. “They equipped me with the foundation necessary for conducting research in multidisciplinary fields.”

After earning his doctorate from ECE ILLINOIS and the Department of Physics at Illinois, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His career in industry included work at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, IBM Almaden Research Center, the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corporate Headquarters, and Raychem Corporation.

He founded Anvik Corporation, a microelectronics manufacturing systems company, in 1992. He continues to serve as the company’s founder and president. While in industry, he had the opportunity to provide technical guidance to teams of engineers and scientists. Motivated by how much he enjoyed it and led by a desire to train even younger minds, he decided to join the ECE ILLINOIS faculty in 2006. The move was especially meaningful to him because he saw Illinois as formative in his career.

“I felt it would be rewarding to infuse the culture of technical excellence in young people through teaching,” Jain said, “especially as students are just beginning to learn how to do research.”

During his time as a faculty member, he has enjoyed teaching and helping students understand the importance of asking questions, especially those about the fundamental aspects of processes, materials, and other basic elements of different technologies.

In retirement, he will continue his research in advancing semiconductor nanoelectronics technologies, with possible collaborative efforts with the industry.

Jain was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2009 for his development of high-resolution, deep-ultraviolet excimer laser lithography for microelectronic fabrication. He holds 70 patents and won two Outstanding Innovation Awards while working at IBM. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, IEEE, the Optical Society of America, and SPIE. He received the OSA’s Richardson Medal in 2008, and was recognized by the APS, IEEE, OSA, and SPIE in the 50 Years of Laser History Milestones.

He is grateful for such recognitions, and that his work has seen such widespread applications as they have advanced electronic devices like computers, smartphones, and televisions.

“It’s helped make them affordable broadly for society,” Jain said. “I’m proud my years at Illinois played a significant role in these contributions.”