Young innovator finds purpose at the heartbeat of electronics and in the ‘soul of the music’

 TIer Ernest Yen

The hands of the young innovator move with precision as he draws his bow across the strings and presses each note along the fingerboard of his violin.

The concert hall resonates with beautiful, moving passages from Niccolo Paganini's Caprice No. 24, each note in lockstep with the melody in Ernest’s mind, the movement of his bow and the quickness of his fingers.

While he plays, he thinks of his left hand as the engineer, his right hand as the “soul of the music.”

To Ernest, the violin has been many things: A chore. An instrument to awaken his competitive spirit. A motivator for big goals. And finally, a resonator that would open his eyes to the underlying physics of a technology innovation he would someday develop.

Ernest’s fingers learned their quickness from playing the violin – and the restless movement of his fingers helped lead him to his day job – as a micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technologist in Kilby Labs, our company’s applied research center.

Ernest has developed a new application for bulk-acoustic wave (BAW) resonators, devices much like his violin, only at 100 microns wide, our new TI BAW technology is smaller than the diameter of a human hair and oscillates at much higher, inaudible frequencies.

These tiny timekeepers have the potential to become the sturdy heartbeat of electronic systems that will accelerate next-generation connectivity, enabling big data and unlocking the potential for smart cities, smart factories, smart homes and a host of other applications.

Standing mid-stage in the Eugene McDermott Concert Hall at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Ernest remembers the last time he was here. At 13, he sat within 5 feet of where he is standing now, playing with the Taiwan youth orchestra. By that point, he had long since fallen in love with music.