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About Sherra E. Kerns

Areas of Interest: electrical and computer engineering, microelectronic circuits, optical interconnect technology, advanced electronic systems, space electronics, homeland security.
Much of my research has centered on improving the total information content, and the reliability of this content, within microelectronic circuits. I've worked on a series of techniques to modify everything from materials characteristics and memory and logic design to system architectures in order to enhance the accuracy and quantity of information stored in all forms of electronics. My work began years ago on chips designed for electrically harsh environments, such as space systems, nuclear reactors and particle accelerators. Since our global microelectronics industry continues to shrink the parameters and increase the sensitivity of the systems on which our society increasingly depends, work on the aggressive environments in space foresees solutions for our planet.
I have also developed and exercised techniques to simulate and verify the effects of many environmental insults on electrical systems and contributed to the design of highly reliable technologies. Overall, this work has lead to dramatic decreases in the vulnerability of most electronic systems to information loss, and provided specialized techniques to predict the performance and reliability of advanced systems. Since coming to Olin, I've become interested in a complementary problem - the design of ultra-sensitive circuitry for a detector application associated with global and homeland security issues.
Another interest is the design, fabrication and efficiency of an all-silicon optical interconnect technology that promises to dramatically increase speed and performance of next-generation electronics. The design of improved microelectromechanical ("MEMS") accelerometers and rate sensors fascinates me, and even before coming to Olin I worked with corporate leaders in the Boston area on these problems. Recently, I have been part of the team that designed and fabricated the first diamond transistors. These unprecedented devices allow ultra-reliable circuit operations at extreme temperatures and environments, including everything from jet engines to deep space probes.


Present F.W. Olin Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Olin College of Engineering
Present Founding Vice President for Innovation and Research, Olin College of Engineering

Curriculum Vitae

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Honors and Awards

  • Bernard M. Gordon Prize
  • Winner of numerous teaching awards and professional honors, including prestigious Harriet B. Rigas Outstanding Woman Engineering Educator Award
  • Founder of companies; author of hundreds of journal articles and technical presentations


  • Semiconductor Devices
  • Introduction to the Microelectronics and Nanotechnology Revolution

Contact Information


Articles (8)