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Nabil Mistkawi

Degree: PhD, Physical Chemistry

What's next: Research in advanced technologies for Intel

Researchers at top chemical companies and academic labs worked for a year to find a solution and told Intel that it couldn't be done.

They thought it was impossible to selectively remove a layer of material from Intel's microprocessors, a critical step to the development of smaller and faster semiconductor chips.

Then, Nabil Mistkawi, a Portland State University doctoral student and full-time Intel employee, took up the challenge. In just three days, working alone in a lab, he came up with a new chemical solution that proved not only effective but environmentally friendly.

Intel Corporation now uses 6,000 to 8,000 gallons of Mistkawi’s mixture every week.

Mistkawi, who came to Oregon from Palestine as a teenager and lives in Keizer with his wife and three children, says he couldn't have done it without his PSU faculty adviser, Shankar Rananavare.

Rananavare worked around Mistkawi's busy work and family schedule, even going to Intel to review his student’s experimental work and writing.

"Very few of my colleagues had this kind of a relationship with an adviser," Mistkawi says. "It made them jealous."

Mistkawi has filed nine patent applications since he started graduate school at Portland State in 2003. He chose PSU for his doctoral work because of its strong chemistry faculty and support of local industry.

"Everything I've done at Portland State has certainly been of significant importance to what I'm trying to do now at Intel," he says.