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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering > CNSE Addresses Unique Nanotechnology Challenges

Michael Fancher
Associate Professor of Nanoeconomics
UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering

Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), a consortium of Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) member companies, to charter the Nanoelectronics Research Corporation (NERC) to develop and administer a university-based program to address the lower size limits of complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS) technology that will be reached in about 10 years.

March 15th, 2007

CNSE Addresses Unique Nanotechnology Challenges

Predictions that the lower size limits of complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS) technology will be reached in about 10 years prompted the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), a consortium of Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) member companies, to charter the Nanoelectronics Research Corporation (NERC) to develop and administer a university-based program to address this issue. A major component of this effort is the new $435 million Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery and Exploration (INDEX). Headquartered at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), University at Albany-State University of New York, INDEX is the result of a joint effort by SIA and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) to create the "Bell Labs for the 21st Century" through partnerships between the nation's premier research universities, and the world's leading semiconductor research, development, and manufacturing companies.

INDEX's mission is to develop the "holy grail" for nanoelectronic devices, exploring a variety of new nano-enabled materials, substrates, tools, processes and designs. It will play an integral role in New York State's strategy to establish an R&D - manufacturing eco-system already well underway at CNSE's Albany NanoTech Complex. With a current net asset base of $3.5 billion located within 450,000 square feet of state-of-the-art facilities, including 60,000 square feet of Class 1 capable 300mm wafer cleanrooms, the complex is home to over 1,400 scientists, researchers, engineers and technicians from many of the world's leading nanoelectronics companies, such as IBM, AMD, Qimonda, Micron, SEMATECH, Applied Materials, Tokyo Electron, ASML, Ebara, SONY, Toshiba, Freescale, Vistec Lithography and Honeywell, among many others.
Combined with the emergence of nanofabrication infrastructure on the 300mm wafer format, the convergence of nanotechnology with electronics, photonics, bioelectronics, microsystems and wireless technologies is rapidly approaching. This convergence will accelerate growth in a broad array of industries by enabling the development of pervasive tether-free computing. However, unlocking the enormous market opportunities in such diverse sectors as energy, biohealth and security will remain elusive until a common integration platform and a coherent roadmap for achieving interoperability is established.

The development of three dimensional (3-D) wafer-scale hyper-integration schemes for 300mm wafer processing is emerging as one of the key drivers in providing a common integration platform capable of integrating heterogeneous structures, materials and devices. Combined with new programs supporting the continuation of exponential growth in efficiency through nanolithography and game-changing performance improvement enabled by nanostructured materials, pervasive tether-free computing is well on its way to becoming a reality.

The development of nanolithography technology, such as Extreme UltraViolet and direct-write electron-beam, 3-D wafer-scale system-in-a-package integration, and nanostructured materials' processes such as atomic layer deposition (ALD), are some of the key technology drivers under development for integrating nanotechnology in logic and memory devices at CNSE's Albany NanoTech complex, in partnership with over 250 global industry partners. With the development of the industry supply chain for nanolithography, 3-D wafer-scale packaging and ALD processing, industry compliant approaches for integrating logic, memory, sensors, wireless and power will be soon be available, enabling pervasive tether-free computing in diverse market segments over the next three to five years.

Some of the most interesting emerging applications involve the use of technologies developed for one application in a completely new way, thus greatly expanding market potential while allowing significant leveraging of existing know-how and even supply chain infrastructure. Good examples lie in the alternative energy arena. New energy storage technologies such as high efficiency supercapacitors and ultracapacitors employ some of the same materials and processing technologies used in the semiconductor, thin film head, and display fields, such as atomic layer deposition and 3-D integration.

In much the same way, recent announcements by multi-billion dollar semiconductor suppliers such as Applied Materials and DuPont indicating forays into the photovoltaics space immediately allows tremendous possibilities for increased collaboration, learning, and cross-pollination from the semiconductor industry.

The increasing cost and related risk associated with atomic scale manufacturing requires a closer coupling between research, development and manufacturing. A new generation of institutions executing dynamic cross-industry, cross-disciplinary models is emerging, led by CNSE, that are responding to the unique challenges and opportunities created by nanotechnology. These institutions are establishing a new paradigm for state-of-the-art research, education and technology deployment that offers industry and government a highly leveraged return on its investment in projects, programs and centers.
New York State is leading the country by providing over $500 million in governmental support, combined with over $3.0 billion in matching corporate investments at CNSE, creating a Quick-Turn-Around-Time (QTAT) 200mm & 300mm wafer pilot-prototyping and workforce training capability at CNSE. New York State's investments are the critical "missing link" for commercialization by reducing the risk, cost and time to market of nanotechnology-enabled devices for our industry partners. Albany's unique IP-oriented Integration Lab Model, which supports partnerships between the College and small, medium and large-sized companies in vertically-integrated teams, enables the successful integration of multifunctional devices for low-cost, field-robust, tether-free computing applications.
In the United States, federal funding must recognize the emergence of new university-based technology, educational, and business models that concurrently support long-term "bottom-up" research, while also supporting shorter-term "top-down" development and pilot scale-up manufacturing. Funding should encourage cross-industry, cross-platform initiatives targeting convergence opportunities that leverage the shared-use nanofabrication infrastructure capable of supporting the entire continuum of nanotechnology research, development and manufacturing.

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