Is a nanotechnology-based chip in the future for personal computers?

The Semiconductor Research Corporation is teaming up with the federal government to find out.

SRC’s Nanoelectronics Research Initiative will receive $2.76 million from the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the research project. SRC and its private enterprise partners will prove approximately $1.4 million. Over five years, the project could receive as much as $15 million.

NIST picked the SRC nanotelectronics group, known as NRI, through a competitive process. The goal is to develop a successor to develop what SRC and NIST called “a radical, yet practical successor” to PC chips and circuits.

The SRC and its partners continue to conduct research into the means of making chips cooler, faster and stingier in power use. However, the SRC and the technology industry have said for years that the maximum limits for existing circuits and materials are about to be reached.

NRI, which operates three research centers across the U.S., also is seeking new public-private partnerships to provide research and development funding.

“By selecting NRI for long-term partnership, we are facilitating research that will continue critical advances in future-generation computer technology,” said James Turner, acting director of NIST. “Those gains will support America’s continued leadership in the field of nanoelectronics. By collaborating with NRI-sponsored researchers, NIST will be able to ensure that its programs focus on developing critical measurement tools likely to accelerate advances in the nanoelectronics field.”

NRI will seek to replace Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistor (CMOS FET) technology, which is found in most electronic devices from cellular phones to supercomputers.

“This is an exciting match in many ways. NRI is gaining not only a new funding partner, but one with deep technological expertise,” said Jeff Welser, director of the SRC-NRI. “This will be made a true partnership with strong collaboration among NRI and NIST researchers for scientific input on the ongoing NRI university research programs.”

NRI’s industrial partners include IBM, Intel, Micron Technology, Advanced Micro Devices, Freescale Semiconductor and Texas Instruments.