Who’s Heba Abunahla

January 2023

Heba Abunahla

Assistant Professor

Quantum and Computer Engineering department, TU Delft, Netherlands.



Research interests

• Emerging RRAM devices
• Smart sensors
• Hardware security
• Graphene-based electronics
• CNTs-based electronics
• Neuromorphic computing

Short bio

Heba Abunahla is currently Assistant Professor at the Quantum and Computer Engineering department, Delft University of Technology. Abunahla received the BSc, MSc and PhD degrees (with honors) from United Arab Emirates University, University of Sharjah and Khalifa University, respectively, via competitive scholarship. Prior to joining TU Delft as an Assistant Professor, Abunahla spent over five years as Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Scientist working extensively on the design, fabrication and characterization of emerging memory devices with great emphasis on computing, sensing and security applications.

Abunahla owns two patents, has published one book, and has co-authored over 30 conference and journal papers. In 2017. Abunahla had a collaborative project with University of Adelaide, Australia, on developing novel non-enzymatic glucose sensor. According to her achievements, she received Australian Global Talent Permanent Residency in 2021. Moreover, Abunahla’s innovation of deploying emerging RRAM devices in neuromorphic computing has been selected by Nature-Scientific Reports to be among Top 100 in materials Science. Also, her recent achievement in fabricating RRAM-based tunable filters was selected to be published in the first issue of Innovation@UAE Magazine launched by Ministry of Education.

Abunahla has several awards and competitive scholarships. E.g., she is the recipient of Unique Fellowship for Top Female Academic Scientists – Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science (2022) from Delft University of Technology. Abunahla serves as a lead Editor in Frontiers in Neuroscience. She is an active reviewer for several high impact journals and conferences.

Research highlights

Secure intelligent memory and sensors are crucial components in our daily electronic devices and systems. CMOS has been the core technology to provide such requirements for decades. However, the limitations associated to power and area have led to the need for an alternative technology, called Resistive-RAM (RRAM). RRAM devices are able to perform memory and computation in the same cell, which enables in-memory computation feature. Moreover, RRAM can be deployed as a smart sensor due to its ability to change its I-V characteristic against the surrounding environment. Inherit stochasticity in RRAM junctions is also a great asset for security applications.

Abunahla has built a strong expertise in the field of micro-electronics design, modeling, fabrication, and characterization of high-performance and high-density memory devices. Abunahla developed novel RRAM devices that have been uniquely deployed in sensing, computing, security, and communication applications. For instance, Abunahla demonstrated a novel approach to measuring glucose levels for an adult human, and demonstrated the ability to fabricate such biosensor using a simple, low-cost standard photolithography process. In contrast to other sensors, the developed sensor has the ability to accurately measure glucose levels at neutral pH conditions (i.e. pH=7). Abunahla filed a US patent for this device and all the details of the innovation are published by the prestigious Nature Scientific Reports. This work has great commercialization opportunity; being unique and cutting edge in nature, and Abunahla is currently working with her team toward providing lab-on-chip sensing approach based on this technology.

Furthermore, Abunahla has recently innovated flexible memory devices, namely NeuroMem, that can mimic the memorization behavior of the brain. This unique feature makes NeuroMem a potential candidate for emerging in-memory-computing applications. This work is the first to report on the great potential of this technology for Artificial Intelligence (AI) inference for edge devices. Abunahla filed a US patent for this innovation and published the work in the prestigious Nature Scientific Reports. Further, her innovative research in using nanoscale devices for Gamma-ray sensing using Sol-gel/drop-coated micro-think nanomaterials is very unique and has been filed as US patent and published by the prestigious Journal of Materials Chemistry and Physics. Moreover, Abunahla has fabricated novel RRAM-based tunable filters which prove the possibility of tuning RF devices without any localized surface mount device (SMD) element or complex realization technique. In the field of hardware security, Abunahla developed an efficient flexible RRAM-based true random number generation, named SecureMem. The data generated by SecureMem prototype passed all NIST tests without any post-processing or hardware overhead.