SRC NRI Announces New Awards for Nanoelectronics Research at U.S. Universities to Extend the Roadmap for Semiconductor Chips

Public-Private Collaboration Invests $15M to Expand Next-Generation Electronics Effort

May 5, 2008

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. - Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the world's leading university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies, today announced the latest round of awards for the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), a public-private partnership that aims to maintain U.S. leadership in next-generation electronics by developing devices that exploit the unique properties of nanometer-scale materials. NRI's goal is to develop a radical, yet practical, new device that continues scaling of semiconductors beyond the predominantly silicon content found in the chips that power today's computers and electronics. The aim is to demonstrate feasibility of such devices in simple circuits during the next 5-10 years.

The awards are the first results from the NRI partnership with the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), announced last fall. The partnership is intended to advance nanoelectronics research at leading universities across the U.S., leading to future products for industry and making an important contribution to NIST's mission of developing measurements and standards for nanotechnology. In addition to the $3.8 million in existing NRI industry funds, the new awards will provide an additional $11.2M of funding from the public-private partnership between NIST and the industry, resulting in a total of $15M committed to nanoelectronics funding at the NRI centers over the next three years.

"These new awards are an important milestone for America's exploration of nanoelectronics, expanding both the research projects and the number of U.S. universities involved. The deep technological expertise and funding combined under the NRI and NIST partnership bodes well for the U.S. in the race to find the next semiconductor device," said Dr. Jeff Welser, director of the SRC-NRI. "The importance of maintaining our leadership in nanoelectronics can't be overstated for the future of the U.S. economy."

As part of the NRI, NIST researchers lend their expertise in nanoelectronics research, including a special focus on advancing the science of measurement. The new awards should help expand the three-way interaction between researchers in university, industry, and the NIST laboratories on developing novel nanoelectronic devices for future commercial applications.

Over 20 proposals for new research were received, both for individual research projects and larger multi-university research programs. The final awards will support and expand research efforts at NRI's regional nanoelectronics centers in the U.S., including the addition of new universities and new projects to the three existing centers and the recently announced startup of a new center, the Midwest Academy for Nanoelectronics and Architectures in Notre Dame, Indiana. As a result, eleven new universities have been added to the NRI center program.

The NRI is conducting broad research on new ways to create electronic on-off switches and represent a digital '1' or '0' bit. NRI is also exploring new ways to transfer data, new technologies to build and cool these novel computational systems, and new ways to integrate the new technologies with traditional silicon CMOS components. All of the research, including the added projects, will be conducted in the four NRI nanoelectronics multi-university centers. The final centers and participating universities are summarized below.

Western Institute of Nanoelectronics (WIN), UCLA, Los Angeles, CA: Existing center with UCLA, UC-Santa Barbara, UC-Berkeley, and Stanford, now expanded with the addition of UC-Irvine, University of Denver, Portland State University, and the University of Iowa. Research focuses on spintronics devices and architectures, including new materials such as multi-ferroics, dilute magnetic semiconductors, and nano-magnets.

Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery and Exploration (INDEX), State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY: Existing center with SUNY-Albany, MIT, GIT, Harvard, Purdue, RPI, and Yale, now expanded to include Columbia, Caltech, North Carolina State University, and University of Virginia. Research focuses on fabrication, modeling, and characterization of several different nanoelectronic devices including graphene-based, molecular, and excitonic devices.

South West Academy of Nanoelectronics (SWAN), University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX: Existing center with UT-Austin, UT-Dallas, Texas A&M, Rice, Arizona State University, University of Maryland, and Notre Dame, now expanded to include North Carolina State University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. Research focuses on simulation and theory for many areas of nanoelectronics, as well as fabrication and metrology of devices, structures and interconnects, including work on graphene, multi-ferroic materials, and plasmonics.

Midwest Academy for Nanoelectronics and Architectures, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN: New center with Notre Dame, Purdue, University of Michigan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, and Penn State. Research will focus on energy efficient devices and architectures, and modeling of phonon management and energy dissipation.

Each of these centers receives significant additional support, both in new infrastructure and funding for nanoelectronics research, from their state government, as well as additional funds provided by SRC member companies in the region of each center.

Companies already participating in NRI are Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.; Freescale Semiconductor, Inc.; IBM Corp.; Intel Corp.; Micron Technology, Inc.; and Texas Instruments, Inc. Senior scientists from these companies as well as NIST help define and guide the NRI technical program, as well as assign researchers to collaborate with the university teams.


NRI is one of three research program entities of SRC. Celebrating 26 years of collaborative research for the semiconductor industry, SRC defines industry needs, invests in and manages the research that gives its members a competitive advantage in the dynamic global marketplace. Awarded the National Medal of Technology, America's highest recognition for contributions to technology, SRC expands the industry knowledge base and attracts premier students to help innovate and transfer semiconductor technology to the commercial industry. SRC also seeks to leverage funding from global government agencies. For more information, visit and

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