Q&A for Dr. Yusheng Bian, winner of the GFX Prize

Foundry Files sat down with Dr. Yusheng Bian, a GF Master Inventor and winner of the company’s first GFX Prize for innovation. Based at our Malta, New York, facility, Dr. Bian is a technology development engineer in GF’s device engineering group. Read about the GFX Prize here.

1. What was your first invention at GF and what did it do?

During my tenure at GF, I embarked on my first invention centered around a grating coupler, a crucial component that enables efficient light coupling between the silicon photonic chip and the external environment. Joining GF as the inaugural silicon photonic R&D engineer at its Malta, NY facility in 2017, I was tasked with designing a grating coupler for our newly launched silicon photonics project. Recognizing its ubiquitous usage in wafer level testing and its substantial impact on the majority of test structures employed in silicon photonics projects, I dedicated significant time and effort to extensive research, including a thorough literature survey, understanding complex layer structures, considering process details and constraints, and conducting comprehensive simulations and analyses. This endeavor not only led to my first invention but also paved the way for subsequent inventions during my early career at GF.

2. How so?

The initial invention I worked on instilled in me a fundamental inclination towards thinking beyond traditional boundaries and capitalizing on design freedom to push performance limits, while remaining mindful of practical considerations such as process and implementation constraints. This mindset continues to profoundly shape my approach to innovation and problem-solving, fueling my exploration of unconventional solutions and pursuit of optimal outcomes.

3. What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?

The most fulfilling aspect of my job lies in the continuous opportunity to acquire knowledge across multiple disciplines and the diverse range of technical challenges that need to be tackled, both internally within our organization and for our valued customers. The field of silicon photonics is rapidly evolving, offering abundant prospects for developing innovative technologies and overcoming numerous technical challenges. The daily pursuit of problem-solving keeps me engaged, and the satisfaction derived from knowing that my work contributes to addressing real-world problems or enhancing people’s lives is invaluable.

The process of identifying issues, conceptualizing creative solutions, and successfully implementing them provides intellectual stimulation and personal gratification. Moreover, it necessitates collaboration and teamwork. Working alongside talented and diverse teams brings immense fulfillment. Joining forces with colleagues who share a common objective, combining diverse perspectives and expertise, and collectively tackling challenges fosters a sense of camaraderie and accomplishment.

4. How has GF supported you in your efforts?

GF has played an instrumental role in my personal and professional development, providing unwavering support and encouragement. The company has created a conducive environment for skill enhancement, taking on new challenges, and fostering growth. Each day presents its unique set of challenges, and I am grateful to be surrounded by a team of enthusiastic engineers and supportive managers who assist me throughout the entire process, from conceptualization to execution, and ultimately delivering impactful results to our clients.

Addressing technical challenges is a constant endeavor, and I also strive to effectively balance multiple priorities, including daily responsibilities as a device engineer, customer interactions as a technologist, and nurturing innovative thinking as an inventor. Amidst these responsibilities, I recognize the importance of finding time to recharge and stay updated with industry trends, often through reading research papers during GF’s designated recharge days and my spare time. This practice keeps me motivated and inspired to continuously push forward.

5. How would you describe the culture of innovation at GF?

GF actively fosters a culture of innovation, encouraging all employees across the organization to embrace creative thinking. They provide the necessary resources and mentorship to guide inventors through the patenting process, reinforcing the significance of intellectual property. Moreover, GF has established a comprehensive recognition program that acknowledges inventors at various stages of their journey. In addition, GF values teamwork and promotes cross-functional collaboration, fostering brainstorming, interdisciplinary cooperation, and collective efforts towards shared objectives. I am deeply appreciative of GF’s steadfast support and commitment to fostering innovation. It is through this dedication that GF is able to drive the company’s technology roadmap and advance platform innovation for the industry and our valued customers. Their support empowers us to push boundaries, explore new possibilities, and deliver cutting-edge solutions that make a meaningful impact in the market.

6. What advice do you wish you had when starting out in the semiconductor industry?

Here are some pieces of advice I would like to offer to aspiring engineers interested in breaking into the semiconductor industry:

  • Stay hungry and unconventional: Embrace a mindset of continuous learning and a thirst for knowledge. The semiconductor industry is constantly evolving, so it’s crucial to stay curious and updated on the latest advancements, emerging technologies, and market trends. Seek opportunities for professional development to enhance your skills and knowledge base. Embrace a lifelong learning approach and never stop expanding your expertise.
  • Stay persistent and adaptable: Breaking into the semiconductor industry can be challenging and competitive. Be prepared for setbacks and challenges along the way. Maintain persistence in pursuing your goals and be adaptable to changing industry demands. Learn from failures and use them as steppingstones for growth and improvement.
  • Nurture creativity and innovation: Embrace problems as opportunities for innovation and improvement. Rather than avoiding or fearing challenges, approach them with a fresh perspective and strive for innovative solutions. Cultivate a habit of creative thinking and brainstorming with colleagues from diverse backgrounds to gain new perspectives.
  • Build a strong professional reputation and cultivate teamwork: Develop a strong work ethic, integrity, and professionalism. Deliver high-quality work, meet deadlines, and communicate effectively. Building a positive professional reputation will open doors to future opportunities. In the semiconductor industry, teamwork and collaboration are crucial, so cultivate strong teamwork and communication skills.

Breaking in the semiconductor industry may take time and effort, but with perseverance, a strong skillset, a great work ethic and a passion for continuous learning and creative thinking, you can carve a successful career path in this exciting field.

Read more about Bian and the GFX Prize