The Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) is expanding its Focus Center Research Program, a multi-million dollar, 30-university research collaboration to address challenging technology issues.

The Microelectronics Advanced Research Corp., a subsidiary of the SRC industry consortium in RTP, manages the Focus Center Research Program on behalf of its participating companies and government agencies.

The program is aimed at solving the long-range, difficult challenges outlined in the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, which is an assessment over the next 15 years sponsored by several industry groups.

Five universities … Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Tech, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of California-Los Angeles … will lead the research effort, and be supported by 25 additional universities located in 13 states.

Research portfolios at four existing Focus Centers under the leadership of Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, MIT and UC-Berkeley are being expanded, and a new Focus Center under the leadership of UCLA has opened. The five centers will tap researchers from 31 different U.S. universities.

Government, industry to provide $120M over 3 years

Expected funding of the Focus Centers from the U.S. Department of Defense Government-Industry Co-sponsorship of University Research (GICUR) program will leverage chip industry and supplier-company investments to a total of more than $120 million during the next three years.

For fiscal year 2004, the government contribution to the $29 million program reached $10 million, with the other two-thirds covered by industry. U.S. semiconductor firms invested $14 billion, or 14 cents for every dollar of sales, in research and development in 2003, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) in San Jose.

“SIA has been a strong advocate for increased funding for research in physical sciences and engineering, particularly as technological advances become more difficult as we approach the physical limits of our current chip making processes,” said George Scalise, president of the SIA. “If our society is to continue to enjoy the productivity enhancements and consumer benefits from information technology, Congress needs to add $20 million in funding for fiscal year 2005 to match the industry’s $20 million contribution for this university research program.”

Five technology issues, many more universities

The semiconductor industry’s Focus Center Research Program began in 1998 with the establishment of two research centers at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and at UC-Berkeley. Additional centers were created in 2001 at Carnegie Mellon and MIT.

Other universities and the technology issues to be addressed by the expanded Focus Center Research Program include nanoscale materials at UCLA, with the primary objective to resolve the cross-cutting materials and device challenges and to create new information processing and sensing capabilities.

Other universities involved are N.C. State University, UC-Santa Barbara, University of Minnesota, MIT, California Institute of Technology, UC-Berkeley, UC-Riverside, University of Southern California, Arizona State University, and the State University of New York-Stony Brook.

UC-Berkeley will also study systems design, with the Focus Center looking more than a decade ahead for changes that will be required in system design, integration, test and verification. Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, MIT, Penn State, Princeton, Purdue, Stanford, UCLA, UC- San Diego, UC-Santa Barbara, UC-Santa Cruz, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, and the University of Texas-Austin will also participate.

Another Focus Center will look at interconnect and optoelectronics, led by Georgia Tech. The center’s mission is to discover and invent new electrical, optical and thermal interconnect solutions. Also involved are N.C. State Stanford, MIT, SUNY-Albany, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, UC- Santa Barbara, UC- Berkeley, Texas, Carnegie Mellon, Illinois, Central Florida University, and Cornell University.

Carnegie Mellon will house a circuit design Focus Center to develop circuit techniques and systems concepts to provide design traction for the changes in future transistor technology. Assisting will be Columbia, Cornell, Georgia Tech, MIT, Stanford, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, UC-San Diego, Florida, Illinois, and Washington.

Nanoscale devices will be the area of study at the MIT Focus Center. The goal is to pursue scaling to its ultimate limit and interdisciplinary exploration of new-frontier devices.

Other universities involved are N.C. State, Caltech, Cornell, Penn State, Princeton, Purdue, Stanford, SUNY-Albany, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, UC-Santa Barbara, Florida, Texas and the University of Virginia.

“The technology advances that will come out of the Focus Centers will lead to chips that drive economic growth through productivity improvements,” SIA President Scalise said, “amaze users with multi-functionality for consumer products, and increase our national and homeland security.”


Focus Center Research Program: