The SAMA group at KAUST focuses on the design and development of smart and innovative memory and electronic devices towards a more digitized world with faster and more real-time computations while reducing their energy consumption.

Nazek El-Atab is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Principal investigator of the Smart, Advanced Memory devices and Applications lab (SAMA) at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia. Her research interest focuses on the design and fabrication of smart memory and electronic devices and their applications.

Education and early career

Dr. Nazek El-Atab received her B.Sc. degree in Computer and Communications Engineering from the Hariri Canadian University, Lebanon, in 2012, her M.Sc. degree in Microsystems Engineering from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, UAE, in 2014, and her Ph.D. degree in Interdisciplinary Engineering from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in 2017, under a cooperative program with the MIT and funded by the US Office of Naval Research. During her Ph.D., she worked as a visiting researcher with Prof. Krishna Saraswat at Stanford University. Prior to joining KAUST as an Assistant Professor in ECE, she was a Research Scientist at KAUST.

Areas of expertise and current scientific interests

Dr. El-Atab’s research interest focuses on the design and fabrication of smart memory and electronic devices and their applications, including in-memory computing and in-memory sensing.

Career Recognition

Dr. El-Atab has received several awards for her research, including 2015 For Women in Science Middle East Fellowship by L’Oreal-UNESCO, the 2016 IEEE Nanotechnology Student Travel Award, the 2017 International Rising Talents Award by L’Oreal-UNESCO, the 2018 “Hariri Canadian University” Alumni Award, and was portrayed in the 2019 “Remarkable Women in Technology” by UNESCO. Dr. El-Atab was also selected to participate in the 70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany. Dr. El-Atab has also been selected among the 2020 UC Berkeley EECS Rising Stars and among the 10 Innovators under 35 by MIT Technology Review Arabia, 2020. Her research has been highlighted extensively in international media including in IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, BBC, MIT Technology Review, Sky News Arabia, MBC, etc.

Professional and editorial activities

Dr. El-Atab is a Senior IEEE Member and currently serves as the Chair of the Western Saudi Arabia IEEE Electron Device Society Chapter. She is currently serving as an Associate Editor at the Nano Select journal by Wiley and as a Review Editor at the Flexible Electronics journal by Frontiers in Electronics. She has published over 26 papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals, 40 conference presentations, 2 book chapters, 2 books, and has 7 filed U.S. patents.

Selected Research Highlights

Selected list of publications:

1. Nazek El-Atab, Nadeem Qaiser, Wedyan Babatain, Rabab Bahabry, Rana Shamsuddin, and Muhammad M. Hussain “Nature-Inspired Spherical Silicon Solar Cell for Three-Dimensional Light Harvesting, Improved Dust and Thermal Management” MRS Communications, 2020.
2. Nazek El-Atab, Nadeem Qaiser, Huda Badghaish, Sohail F. Shaikh and Muhammad M. Hussain “A Flexible Nanoporous Template for the Design and Development of Reusable Anti-COVID-19 Hydrophobic Face Masks” ACS Nano 14, 7659–7665, 2020.
3. Nazek El-Atab, Wedyan Babatain, Rabab Bahabry, Reem Alshanbari, Rana Shamsuddin, and Muhammad M. Hussain “Ultra-flexible Corrugated Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells with High Efficiency (19%), Improved Thermal Performance and Reliability Using Low-Cost Laser-Patterning” ACS Appl. Mat. Int. 12, 2269-2275, 2020.
4. Nazek El-Atab, Reema Almansour, Alhanouf Alhazzany, Reema Suwaidan, Yara Alghamdi, Wedyan Babatain, Sohail F. Shaikh, Sherjeel M. Khan, Nadeem Qaiser and Muhammad M. Hussain “Heterogeneous Cubic Multi-Dimensional Integrated Circuit (MD-IC) for Water and Food Security in Fish Farming Ponds” Small, 16, 1905399, 2020.
5. Nazek El-Atab, Javier Chavarrio Canas and Muhammad M. Hussain “Pressure-Driven Two-Input 3D Microfluidic Logic Gates with Simultaneous Boolean AND and OR Operations” Advanced Science, 7, 1903027, 2020.
6. Nazek El-Atab, Nadeem Qaiser, Rabab Bahabry and Muhammad M. Hussain “Corrugation Enabled Asymmetrically Ultra-Stretchable (95%) Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells with High Efficiency (19%)” Adv. Energy Mat., 1902883, 2019.
7. Nazek El-Atab, Sohail F. Faizan and Muhammad M. Hussain “Nano-scale transistors for interfacing with brain: design criteria, progress and prospect” IOP Nanotechnology 30, 442001, 2019.
8. Nazek El-Atab, Sohail F. Faizan, Sherjeel M. Khan, and Muhammad M. Hussain “Heterogeneous Multi-Dimensional Integrated Circuits (MD-IC) for Internet of Things (IoT) Applications” Advanced Engineering Materials 21, 1900043, 2019.
9. Muhammad Mustafa Hussain and Nazek El-Atab “2D Material-Based Electronic Synapses Learn Like Brain” Nature Elect. 1, 436, 2018.
10. Nazek El-Atab, Irfan Saadat, Krishna Saraswat, and Ammar Nayfeh “Nano-islands Based Charge Trapping Memory: A Scalability Study” IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology 16, 1143 - 1146, 2017.
11. Nazek El-Atab, Turkan Gamze Ulusoy, Amir Ghobadi, Junkyo Suh, Raisul Islam, Ali K. Okyay, Krishna Saraswat, and Ammar Nayfeh “Cubic-Phase Zirconia Nano-islands Growth Using Atomic Layer Deposition and Application in Low-Power Charge-Trapping Nonvolatile-Memory Devices” Nanotechnology 28, 445201, 2017.
12. Nazek El-Atab, Farsad Chowdhury, Turkan Gamze Ulusoy, Amir Ghobadi, Amin Nazirzadeh, Ali K. Okyay, and Ammar Nayfeh “~3-nm ZnO Nanoislands Deposition and Application in Charge Trapping Memory Grown by Single ALD Step,” Scientific Reports 6, 38712, 2016. doi: 10.1038/srep38712.
13. Nazek El-Atab and Ammar Nayfeh “1D vs. 3D quantum confinement in 1-5 nm ZnO nanoparticles agglomerations for application in charge trapping memory devices,” Nanotechnology 27, 275205, 2016.
14. Farsad Chowdhury, Aaesha Alnuaimi, Nazek El-Atab, Munir Nayfeh, and Ammar Nayfeh “Enhanced performance of thin-film amorphous silicon solar cells with a top film of 2.85 nm silicon nanoparticles,” Solar Energy, 125, 332-338, 2016.
15. Nazek El-Atab, Berk Berkan Turgut, Ali K. Okyay, Munir Nayfeh, and Ammar Nayfeh, “Enhanced non-volatile memory characteristics with Quattro-layer graphene-nanoplatelets vs. 2.85-nm Si-nanoparticles with asymmetric Al2O3/HfO2 tunnel oxide” Nanoscale Res. Lett, vol. 10, no.1, p. 248 (2015)/ DOI:10.1186/s11671-015-0957-5.
16. Nazek El-Atab, Ayman Rizk, Burak Tekcan, Sabri Alkis, Ali K. Okyay, and Ammar Nayfeh, “Memory effect by charging of ultra-small 2-nm laser-synthesized solution-processable Si-nanoparticles embedded in Si-Al2O3-SiO2 structure” Phys. Status Solidi A 212, no. 8, 1751–1755 (2015) / DOI 10.1002/pssa.201431802.
17. Nazek El-Atab, Furkan Cimen, Sabri Alkis, Ali K. Okyay and Ammar Nayfeh "Enhanced memory effect with embedded graphene nanoplatelets in ZnO charge trapping layer,"  Appl. Phys. Lett. 105, 033102 (2014).
18. Nazek El-Atab, Furkan Cimen, Sabri Alkis, Bülend Ortaç, Mustafa Alevli, Nikolaus Dietz, Ali K. Okyay and Ammar Nayfeh "Enhanced memory effect via quantum confinement in 16 nm InN nanoparticles embedded in ZnO charge trapping layer," Appl. Phys. Lett. 104, 253106 (2014).
19. Nazek El-Atab, Ayse Ozcan, Sabri Alkis, Ali K. Okyay, and Ammar Nayfeh, “Silicon Nanoparticle Charge Trapping Memory Cell,” Phys. Status Solidi RRL, 8, 629 (2014) DOI: 10.1002/pssr.201409157.


KAUST is the best place for conducting high-impact research due to the available state-of-the-art facilities, world-class faculty, and competitive environment.

Education Profile

  • Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Engineering, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 2017.
  • M.S., Microsystems Engineering, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 2014.
  • B.Sc., Computer and Communications Engineering, Hariri Canadian University, Lebanon, 2012.