Esteemed MSE Alumna Adds Florida Inventors Hall of Fame to Long List of Achievements 

Deepika Singh, Ph.D.
Deepika Singh, Ph.D.

Deepika Singh, Ph.D., (MS MSE ’91) founder and CEO of R&D Investment Holdings, LLC, is among the 2023 class of inductees into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. Dr. Singh is also the founder and former CEO of Sinmat- a company specializing in novel planarization processes for the semiconductor chip industry.  

Dr. Singh was selected for her significant technical contributions, innovation, and entrepreneurship of chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) technologies used to polish ultra-hard materials such as silicon carbide, gallium nitride, diamond and sapphire. Power devices made from these materials are used in the next generation of clean energy electronics, 5G and electric vehicles.  

Ultra-hard materials are particularly challenging to work with due to their extreme hardness and chemical inertness, and polishing them without creating defects that can affect chip performance is a big challenge. Dr. Singh invented and commercialized CMP processes using novel chemistries and particles to enhance reactions while improving the finish and eliminating sub-surface damage is widely recognized as a seminal breakthrough.  

Dr. Singh earned her master’s degree at the University of Florida and a doctorate at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, both in materials science and engineering (MSE). 

“When I came to Gainesville after graduate school, I worked on patents for a local company, and it really helped me to appreciate the importance of focusing on ideas that could be commercialized,” Singh said.  

She said Sinmat’s first product “didn’t really take off, but we learned so much from that experience that we could apply to other products. Now, that technology is used on everything from smartwatches to wind turbines.” 

Dr. Singh has received numerous industry honors, including four R&D100 awards, a Manufacturing Business of the Year award and a commendation from President Obama praising her service to the nation for developing new ways to manufacture microchips that help power smarter energy systems. She has over 30 patents under her name. 

“Dr. Singh’s inventorship, leadership and entrepreneurship make her an outstanding choice for the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame,” Michele Manuel, Ph.D., chair of the UF Department of Materials Science & Engineering, said. “Through scientific discovery, she advanced research and commercialized technology which has significantly impacted the state of Florida and the nation. Her efforts can be directly and tangibly connected to the economic growth in the city of Gainesville, the state of Florida, and beyond.” 

After Sinmat was acquired in 2020 by Entegris, a leading global supplier of chemicals and advanced materials to the chip industry, Dr. Singh founded R&D Investment Holdings to fund and mentor other start-up companies.  

With her new company, Singh hopes to not only financially support start-ups but also mentor entrepreneurs. “We want to invest, but we also want to play an active role in helping a company to succeed because we have faced many of the same hurdles in our careers,” said Dr. Singh.  

In 2022, Dr. Singh was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Through this platform, she plans to continue promoting STEM education to underrepresented women and children and mentoring young entrepreneurs at local business incubators.  

“Dr. Singh is one of the most accomplished leaders in the field of chemical mechanical planarization,” Sudipta Seal, Ph.D., chair of the University of Central Florida’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said. “She has made and, in my view, will continue to make important contributions to advance microelectronics.” 

Hall of Fame inductees, who must have at least one U.S. patent and a connection to Florida, are nominated through an open nomination process and elected by a selection committee composed of distinguished leaders in research and innovation throughout the state.  

The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame was recognized by the Florida Senate in 2014 “for its commitment to honoring inventors and celebrating innovation, discovery, and excellence.” The Hall of Fame is located at the University of South Florida in Tampa and is supported, in part, by the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.   

This year’s Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Gala was held on October 6.