Indian origin inventor trumps Thomas Edison's patent count


11 Sep 2019

This Indian-origin inventor has more patents than Thomas Edison

Often accredited for bringing us the light bulb, Thomas Edison is among the most celebrated inventors.

But did you know that an Indian-origin inventor has more patents than Edison, the "Father of Invention"?

United States-based Gurtej Sandhu (58) has secured 1,299 US utility patents as per the latest count, 206 more than the 1,093 Edison secured in his lifetime.

Here is his story.


An IIT-D graduate, Sandhu moved to US to pursue PhD

An IIT-D graduate, Sandhu moved to US to pursue PhD

Sandhu was born to two Indian chemists in London.

He studied electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.

"I liked engineering better than medicine because I didn't have to deal with blood," he told Kiplinger in 2008.

He then moved to the US and in 1990, completed his PhD in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Professional career

Sandhu rejected a bigger company to work with a start-up

According to the Idaho Statesman, ahead of finishing his PhD, Sandhu received two job offers in 1989- one from Texas Instruments, an established computer memory maker, and Micron Technology, then an 11-year-old start-up in Boise, which was struggling to compete with government-subsidized memory-chip makers.

Paying heed to a professor's suggestion, he went with Micron.

Today, Sandhu is the Vice President of Micron Technology.

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Sandhu says inspiration just 'clicks like a flash'

At Micron, Sandhu tried finding ways to stuff more memory cells onto chips to increase efficiency, and in the process, started raking in more and more patents.

Sandhu told Kiplinger that inspiration comes quickly to him.

"Suddenly it clicks and there's a flash," he said.

However, what took him time was comprehending the magnitude of his discoveries.

Sandhu devised method to coat microchips with titanium

For instance, Sandhu devised a method to coat microchips with titanium, that too by preventing the exposure of the metal to oxygen, but that time he didn't think it was a big deal. Today, this method is extensively used by memory-chip makers.


Sandhu has seventh-highest number of patents in the world

Sandhu has seventh-highest number of patents in the world

In 2018, Sandhu was awarded the IEEE Andrew S. Grove Award for his contributions to silicon CMOS process technology that enables DRAM and NAND memory chip scaling.

Sandhu also has the world's seventh-highest number of US patents and with the surge in AI, self-driving vehicles, large-scale data processing and the Internet of Things, leading to growing memory needs, his patents will continue to increase.

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