“Grenoble is the leading European center for electronics.”
Originally from Romania, Sorin Cristoloveanu is an Emeritus CNRS Research Director at the IMEP-LaHC laboratory in Grenoble. He was recently awarded the Andrew Grove Award, which is one of the most prestigious awards in the electronics industry. The accolade recognizes his contributions to the development of SOI (Silicon On Insulator) technology industrialized by Soitec as well as his participation in the Minatec science center. Over the course of his career, he has trained more than 100 PhD students who help promote the region’s scientific excellence around the world.
What does the Andrew Grove Award mean to you?
I am very happy to have earned this award and the many messages of support that came with it. It is all the more special as for almost half a century I have kept a copy of Andrew Grove’s physics manual in Romanian, which was published in 1967—one year before Mr. Grove founded Intel with Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce. I am lucky to have received this award as I have many colleagues who also merit such an award.
How did you end up in Grenoble?
In 1969, I was studying physics in Bucharest and I received a scholarship to come study in France. I earned my Master’s in Physics from Grenoble INP in 1974. Since then I have rarely returned to Romania as I was sentenced to prison for having married a French woman without the government’s authorization. I joined the CNRS in 1977 as part of a small laboratory called the IMEP-LaHC, which has greatly expanded since then and now has a staff of 170. Starting in 1976, I worked on SOI technology that was later industrialized by Soitec.
How do you see the development of electronics in Grenoble?
At the end of the 60s, Grenoble was hardly a player in the field of electronics. Everything important was being done in Paris or Toulouse. Today, Grenoble is Europe’s leading center for electronics. This success is due to the quality of its researchers and the visionary leadership of several key players who helped create a favorable environment (Louis Néel, Jean Therme, Geneviève Fioraso, Yves Brunet, Guy Aubert, etc.). I have been part of this ecosystem throughout its growth. In 1988, I was given the mission of creating a small laboratory at the CEA to help promote exchanges between academia and public research. This marked the beginning of the Minatec science campus, which is now recognized worldwide.
What is your role as a Grenoble-Alps-Isère Ambassador?
Like all researchers, I travel and exchange with my colleagues. I help share the remarkable research work that is being carried out in Grenoble, whether it be in electronics, software, chemistry or biology. I have also organized more than 30 conferences in France, the U.S. and Korea. There was notably the European microelectronics conference in 2005, which brought 1,000 participants to Grenoble.
The French and foreign students who come to Grenoble also become ambassadors for our region. Throughout my career, I have trained more than 100 PhD students. Several of them now hold important positions in their home countries. Unfortunately, many of them end up leaving France because they do not find sufficient work opportunities.
Emeritus CNRS Research Director at the IMEP-LaHC laboratory
1967: Arrived in Grenoble
1974: Master’s in Physics from Grenoble INP
1977: Joined the CNRS
1981: State thesis
1998: Created the CPMA (Center for Advanced Microelectronics Projects)
2017: Andrew Grove Award
About Alps Is(h)ere Ambassadors: a community to promote Grenoble-Isère
As international competition increases between various regions, the AEPI brings together a community of Alpes Is(h)ere Ambassadors to encourage economic development in the Isère department. Ambassadors include entrepreneurs, engineers, researchers, students, artists and athletes. By sharing their engagement in the Grenoble-Isère region, each ambassador promotes the region’s advantages throughout their professional network. The AEPI is here to support you in promoting the advantages and values of the Isère department, both in France and abroad.
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