A Princeton engineering student researching the basic material of semiconductors and another seeking to improve mobile communications security received this year’s Goldwater Scholarships.

The students, Sara Fridovich-Keil and Siddhartha Jayanti, are among 252 undergraduates who were recognized with the scholarship after proposing innovative solutions to research problems in their fields. They will receive $7,500 in scholarship funds for each of their remaining academic years at Princeton.

Fridovich-Keil, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering, proposed a method to increase the efficiency of semiconductors that serve as the basis of display screens. Right now, displays are made by using one of two types of transistors. But Fridovich-Keil said the displays would use much less power if they were made with both types: designers can create alternating power cycles for each type to reduce energy use.

“It would be much more energy efficient,” she said.

Fridovich-Keil, who has worked with Barry Rand, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, thought to create this type of semiconductor using the material tin monoxide. The proposal is challenging because tin monoxide immediately reacts with air, and the reaction blocks it from serving as a dual-type semiconductor.

“No one really has a recipe yet for how to grow stable tin oxide, but we have the tools,” Fridovich-Keil said. In her proposal for the Goldwater Scholarship, she discussed using a technique called atomic layer deposition (ALD), by which atom-thick layers of tin and oxygen are placed on top of each other in a vacuum.

“ALD goes one atom at a time,” Fridovich-Keil said. “It takes hundreds of cycles but it gives you very precise control.”

Sara Fridovich-Keil and Siddhartha Jayanti walking outdoorsFridovich-Keil, the co-president of the Engineering Council, also serves as a project leader at the Princeton Engineering Project for Kids, an Orange Key Tour guide, and a community engagement intern at the Center for Jewish Life.

This summer, she will join Google’s Engineering Practicum Program in New York City, where she will work on the Cloud Developer Velocity team.

Jayanti, a junior majoring in computer science, wrote his essay applying for the Goldwater Scholarship about mobile security after interning at Google last summer. His work concentrated on preventing outsiders from intercepting critical elements of mobile communications.

“You want to be certain that no one who is not supposed to be part of a communication channel can tell who is sending a given message and from which location,” Jayanti said. When the person sending a message is the president, for example, it is not enough to simply encrypt the communication — preventing hackers from finding a device’s location also can be extremely important, Jayanti said.

Jayanti became interested in computer science in high school, when he took college courses at Dartmouth University and first delved into problems surrounding algorithm theory – a branch of computer science that uses math to describe computation. At Princeton, he was enthralled by Professor Robert Tarjan‘s course on the theory of algorithms, and ended up conducting research with him.

Jayanti first began teaching calculus to other students in his Hanover, New Hampshire, high school and taught robotics to middle school students as a freshman at Princeton. The year after, he became an undergraduate tutor for accelerated honors analysis I and II, and is currently the math club outreach chair.

“It’s really enjoyable to be able to share a subject you find fascinating with other people,” Jayanti said. “When you’re teaching something you also have to understand relevant concepts really deeply.”

Peter Park, a junior majoring in mathematics, also received the Goldwater Scholarship. Congress created the scholarship in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater. Its purpose is to fund a highly qualified group of scientists, mathematicians and engineers.


  • Barry Rand

  • Robert Tarjan

Related Departments

  • Computer Science

    Computer Science

  • Professor writes on white board while talking with grad student.

    Electrical and Computer Engineering