One To Watch: Inventor Amit Gupta juggles PhD research with creating breakthrough innovations

In our ongoing series, ‘One to Watch,’ we profile the movers and shakers at TI who are making a difference through their extraordinary work.

There is no doubt about the power of the sibling relationship. Countless studies have shown the influence an older sibling can play on a younger child, and for TIer Amit Gupta, that is certainly the case. Amit grew up in a small town in India where his father was a farmer. Amit had little to no concept of engineering and had few to look to when it came to higher education – with one exception. His older sister left the small town she had grown up in to study at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) in Pilani, a renowned engineering college in India. She studied electrical engineering, bringing that knowledge, and thirst for learning, back to Amit. He’s been obsessed with the field, and education, ever since.

Just like his sister, Amit studied electrical engineering and joined TI in India in 2002. He started by working on analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) for the C2000 family of microprocessors. ADCs are small chips that take real world signals like sound or temperature and translate them into digital code for processors to use. But he didn’t stay for long, as Amit yearned to learn more, leaving TI to pursue his master’s degree at Texas A&M.

In 2006, Amit came back, this time in TI’s Dallas offices with the delta sigma ADC team working on high-performance precision ADCs. And that’s where this story gets really interesting. Just two years later, that thirst for education just couldn’t be quenched. Amit chose to pursue his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin while ALSO keeping his day job with TI.

“At the time I was single. I was not married and did not have kids, so I had a lot of free time,” he said with a chuckle. “So I wanted to do something worthwhile.”

Amit moved to Austin for a year to take part in some class work, before coming back to Dallas. While in Dallas, Amit had to focus on the research phase of his PhD while also leading the team developing the ADS1298 family of fully integrated analog front ends (AFEs).

For the first time, the ADS1298 combined all of the analog features commonly required in medical electrocardiograms (ECGs) and electroencephalogram (EEG) applications – reducing component count and power consumption by up to 95 percent. This breakthrough innovation has enabled portable patient monitoring equipment that makes it easier for doctors to monitor vitals while increasing patient comfort with devices that can easily be carried, concealed or worn.

The ADS1298 has won a slew of awards, including:

  • 2011 Best Electronic Design Award from Electronic Design Magazine
  • 2010 Best Product Award from EDN China Innovation Awards
  • 2010 Product of the Year from Electronic Products
  • 2010 Product of the Year from EN-Genius Network
  • 2010 Reader’s Choice Award from ECN
  • 2010 Semiconductor Product of the Year Finalist  from Elektra

Leading a team to create an award-winning AFE is a full time job, but at the same time he continued to grind away on his research, inventing an entirely new architecture for a low-power ADC. Amit spent countless hours outside of work laboring over his research.

Luckily, he didn’t do it alone. The Kilby Labs India team and the MCU team helped him to create a critical test chip for his research, while a member of his team in Dallas spent countless hours of his own time on the weekends to help test the chip. And his mentor, TI Fellow Krishnaswamy Nagaraj, guided Amit along the way.

All the hard work and dedication to his research resulted in a recent patent for his creation that could be used in a future TI microcontroller (MCU).

“It was nice and always good to get recognized for my work,” Amit said modestly.

Amit graduated this summer from UT Austin with his PhD and will now start focusing on the next big task in the ADC world. That is, of course, unless his thirst for education strikes again.