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DBT40 Honoree: Murali Theivanayagam

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Age: 34
Removal Chemistry R&D Leader, DuPont Electronics & Imaging (Newark)

Introduction:  Murali Theivanayagam is an R&D Leader for DuPont Electronics & Imaging. He leads a team of scientists, engineers and technologists to develop new products for use in the fabrication of integrated circuits. He holds 14 patent applications and is the innovator behind DuPont’s new Acuplane 9000 slurry chemistry.

What his nominator said about him: Murali is a rising talent within the DuPont Electronics & Imaging organization. He brings the elements of curiosity, innovation and collaboration in every aspect of his daily work. He is highly regarded by colleagues and business partners within DuPont, and also by leading customers in the semiconductor industry with whom he collaborates closely to solve challenging problems at the leading technology nodes. His efforts have led to the development of new DuPont products that have been adopted by these customers, and he is now providing mentorship to a team of scientists that are doing the same. He is also highly active in leadership beyond the scope of product development, having led our local safety team, and is now leading the intellectual capital management team.

Professional accomplishments:  Murali joined the DuPont Electronics & Imaging team in Newark, Delaware, in 2015 as a research scientist for our slurry polishing chemistry segment. In this short time, he has achieved two major successes for DuPont.

First, he is the inventor of our Acuplane 9000 series of slurries, with sales in the millions. Slurries are an abrasive chemistry used in the chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) process, a step which is completed many times in the complex production of integrated circuits. Secondly, Murali introduced new research methods using chemistry fundamentals and benchtop screening techniques as opposed to expensive polishing experiments that are providing DuPont the ability to get products to market faster. For example, a previous CMP slurry product may have had a 3-5 year development cycle. Now, we can produce new formulations in as little as 12-18 months, while still ensuring the same level of rigor in our fundamental understanding and product testing.

Leadership examples: Murali was recently promoted to Research & Development Group Leader for Removal Chemistry in DuPont Electronics & Imaging. In this role, Murali leads a team of eight people (Ph.D. researchers and technologists) to develop innovative chemistry formulations for CMP slurries and post-CMP cleaners for use in semiconductor chip fabrication. In addition to leading the team, he manages their resources and lab facilities, and engages with customers around the world as a focal point for DuPont’s removal chemistry products, including promoting new product offerings and identifying future needs and improvement opportunities.

Murali and wife Eswari on the summit of Whiteface Mountain, Adirondack Mountains, New York.

Community service: At DuPont, he is an active member of our employee resource groups, networks that exist to advance inclusion and recognition for diverse populations. He is a member of both our DuPont Asia Group, a network that promotes appreciation and understanding of Asian cultures; and is an ally of our DuPont Women’s Network, a group that works globally to foster gender parity and female leadership. Murali is also part of our University recruiting team, connecting students with career opportunities through DuPont and exposing young talent to diverse career paths.

Tell us a few things that aren’t or your LinkedIn profile:  I enjoy road trips/travel with my wife, reading self-help books, playing competitive badminton in Delaware/Pennsylvania state tournaments, participating in local Tamil/Indian cultural events, and attending Latin dance classes and socials.

What are you currently reading? “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

Next big goal?  Be a visionary technology leader and deliver innovative products to enable emerging technologies (e.g., e-mobility, internet of things, artificial intelligence) and make lasting positive societal impacts.

Go-to song to get into a good mood:  Classic rock songs (Queen is my favorite band)

Family and education:  I live with my wife in Newark. I completed my bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Central Electro Chemical Research Institute, India in 2006 and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010. 

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