Purdue-SRC Partner in Advanced Microelectronics Research and Semiconductor Workforce


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – In search of more powerful microelectronic systems, more powerful microchips must be packaged more tightly, with more robust connections – the same goes for the research partnership to achieve this.

Purdue University and Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) do just that by connecting academic researchers and industrial practitioners, providing the tools for groundbreaking research, and providing a platform for the results to be widely shared.

At a recent event highlighting the partnership of these two organizations, Todd Younkin, President and CEO of SRC, announced additional project funding at Purdue as part of SRC’s continuing and growing commitment to microelectronics. and advanced packaging technologies.

“This award confirms the strength of our partnership with Purdue in the microelectronics revolution,” said Younkin. “We look forward to expanding this partnership, with government participation, to take a giant leap forward and address the tremendous opportunities for the industry and our country.”

Ganesh Subbarayan, professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue, speaks at the event. Subbarayan co-directs the SRC Center for Heterogeneous Integration Research in Packaging. (Photo by Purdue University / John Underwood) Download Image

A critical need for innovation in electronic chips and packaging

Microchips power the technologies we use every day, from cell phones, computers and cars to pacemakers, the Internet and the power grid. Their power and affordability have steadily improved, but the physical limits of standard design and production trends are being reached.

For the past 50 years, we’ve been able to follow Moore’s Law, which predicts that the number of transistors on a microchip will double every two years while the cost of a chip will halve, but that could end, said Ganesh Subbarayan, Purdue professor of mechanical engineering.

“We are facing the potential limitations of Moore’s Law and we have to innovate,” he said. “The number of transistors and the size of electronic chips have increased to the point that they are difficult and expensive to manufacture, while being more susceptible to defects. The next key innovation has to be advanced packaging through which potentially microchips from different companies are integrated into innovative platforms. “

Subbarayan co-directs the SRC Center for Heterogeneous Integration Research in Packaging, or TO BABBLE. Its mission is to drive the future evolution of advanced packaging technology, and it is the only SRC-funded university center exclusively dedicated to this research, he said.

The power of academic-industrial partners

Purdue is a national leader in microelectronic device and packaging research, spanning the ecosystem of semiconductors in software and hardware, said Theresa Mayer, Purdue’s executive vice president for research and partnerships.

“Groundbreaking innovations in all areas that power and support microelectronics are needed for the next technological revolution,” she said. “This is where the power of the Purdue-SRC partnership shines. He combines the best minds in basic and applied research with an industry acumen on the most pressing problems and business constraints. It combines the academic and urban knowledge of the most talented people in this field. “

SRC is a U.S. not-for-profit technology research consortium that serves as a platform for collaboration between technology companies, universities, government agencies, and its own engineers and scientists. More than 25 semiconductor companies are members of the SRC, through which they partner with universities and government agencies. Over the past four years, SRC and its members have invested $ 48 million in Purdue and the university’s partners.

The new set of SRC-funded projects provided an additional $ 735,000 over three years to CHIRP. Bahgat Sammakia from Binghamton University, SUNY, is the Co-Director of CHIRP.

Purdue’s packaging research prowess

In microelectronics, a package can be anything from a printed circuit board with many components to individual components, like the microchip for memory.

Semiconductor chips are fabricated from single crystals of silicon using on the order of 1,000 individual processing steps and taking months to complete from start to finish. As chip size increases and transistor size decreases, chips become more vulnerable to manufacturing defects.

“To combat this, the most recent strategy is to design smaller chips, called ‘chiplets,’ which are less vulnerable to manufacturing defects, and then combine multiple microchips with memory to create powerful, more cost-effective alternatives. to a single large semiconductor. chip “, said Carol handwerker, Professor Reinhardt Schuhmann Jr. of Materials Engineering.

“Innovations in design, materials and processing are required to integrate chips with other electronic components and this is what advanced packaging does,” said Handwerker, who is an international leader in the field of microelectronics. “As you do this the connections get finer and thinner and that places additional demands on the materials. “

“Purdue develops the new materials, new measurement technologies and interconnect technologies that form the basis of advanced packaging,” she said. “We really have to understand how materials behave in these very aggressive environments, because we’re making them smaller and smaller. “

In addition to CHIRP, Purdue has three SRC center programs: Probabilistic Spin Logic for Low-Energy Computing, New Materials for Logic, Memory, and Interconnects, and Brain-Inspired Computing Enabling Autonomous Intelligence.

Industry-funded centers that conduct research related to CHIRP include the Refrigeration Technology Research Center (CTRC), and the Center for Secure Microelectronics Ecosystem (CSME). CHIRP partners include SRC member companies ARM, IBM, Intel, Mediatek, NXP, Samsung and Texas Instruments.

The Department of Defense also recently awarded $ 40 million over five years to a team led by Handwerker to create a multi-university, industry-government packaging research program to enable lead-free solders in electronics. defense, called Lead-Free Solder Performance and Reliability. Insurance program.

Workforce crisis

Addressing the weak supply chain in semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging is an urgent national priority. In an effort to begin acting specifically on these needs, President Biden earlier this year issued an executive order strengthening U.S. supply chains in semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging, and defended USICA law. / Senate CHIPS awarding $ 52 billion to this cause.

Negotiations are underway and US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo has pleaded with Congress to pass the CHIPS law, calling the microchip shortage a crisis.

Workforce development is a shared mission of Purdue, the SRC and the Department of Defense, Subbarayan said.

“Only 12% of semiconductors are made in the United States, and the state of advanced packaging manufacturing in the United States is even worse,” he said. “We have seen the impact of this first hand through the automotive chip shortage. Thinking longer term, we need chips with ever greater functionality for cellphones, computers, infrastructure, defense and space electronics. We need to have more people pursuing careers in microelectronics and creating innovative solutions for next generation semiconductors and advanced packaging. “

Purdue is working with students starting at the undergraduate level to show them career possibilities in microelectronics and advanced packaging technologies to get them involved in related research as early as possible, he said.

A declared mission of the SRC is to create a diverse, inclusive and highly skilled workforce for tomorrow, and it has sponsored more than 16,000 graduate students. In addition, SRC projects are designed to focus equally on research and workforce development.

Handwerker and Subbarayan are also co-leading the advanced packaging business of the Department of Defense’s $ 20 million Scalable Asymmetric Life Cycle Engagement or SCALE project.

SCALE is a national consortium for workforce development in radiation resistant technologies, heterogeneous integration and advanced packaging, system on a chip, supply chain awareness and systems security integrated.

“We need to rally the troops in this exciting, rewarding and meaningful field,” said Handwerker. “We’re working on next-generation technology that will make a difference in the world and that’s what today’s students are looking for: to make a real difference. “

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a leading public research institution that develops practical solutions to today’s most difficult challenges. Ranked in each of the past four years as one of the 10 Most Innovative Universities in the United States by US News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and extraordinary discoveries. Engaged in hands-on, online learning in the real world, Purdue provides a transformative education for everyone. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-2013 levels, allowing more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap to https://purdue.edu/.

Media contact: Brian Huchel, bhuchel@purdue.edu


About Author

Comments are closed.