Addressing the long-term research needs of the semiconductor industry, Texas Instruments, the State of Texas, the Nanoelectronics Research Corporation (NERC) and The University of Texas System announced a $30 million investment in university nanoelectronics programs. Starting with the establishment of the Southwest Academy of Nanoelectronics (SWAN), headquartered at The University of Texas at Austin, the effort will attract top academic researchers to develop and commercialize new nanoelectronics materials and devices that hold the promise of taking the electronics industry beyond today’s chip technologies. Texas Instruments is the lead corporate investor in the effort, with a $5 million contribution.
“The Southwest Academy of Nanotechnology will play a critical role in helping attract the world’s brightest minds to our universities and ensuring that the technologies and jobs of the future remain in Texas,” said Governor Rick Perry. “I am proud to see this important research institution take root here in our state. It not only reaffirms Texas’ position as the nation’s second largest high tech and semiconductor state, it will be the foundation for future growth in this important sector of our economy.”
Billions of times every day – at the turn of a key, flip of a switch, or push of a button – semiconductor chips at the heart of complex electronics play a vital role in the global economy. The results from this initiative will enable the semiconductor industry to extend Moore’s Law – the 40-year-old prediction that the industry can double the number of transistors it places on a computer chip every couple of years – far beyond the year 2020, when the potential limit of the current industry technology is expected to be reached.
“TI is excited about the state’s commitment to excellence in nanoelectronics and the establishment of the SWAN here in Texas,” said Rich Templeton, chief executive officer of Texas Instruments. “This collaboration – involving the states, the university system and private industry – exemplifies the call from the federal government for private and public partnerships that promote American innovation and furthers our ability to leverage federal funds from the National Science Foundation and other agencies.”
SWAN is the third of three new university-based nanoelectronics research centers managed by NERC under the auspices of the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC). Six member companies of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), including AMD, Freescale Semiconductor, IBM, Intel, Micron Technology and Texas Instruments established NERC as a subsidiary of the SRC in 2005 to specifically find additional options beyond the CMOS technology that underpins today’s electronics. NERC is working closely with the National Science Foundation to align nanoelectronics research taking place at various Nanotechnology Centers of Excellence around the country.
SWAN joins the Western Institute of Nanoelectronics (WIN) in California and the Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery and Exploration (INDEX) in New York as the third regional center established by NERC. Strong links between these centers and the participating universities will be instrumental in reaching the 15-year goal of demonstrating novel computing devices that will operate beyond the forecasted limits of today’s technologies.
“The challenge for nanoelectronics is to ensure that society’s expectations for electronic applications can continue to be met,” said Larry Sumney, CEO and president, SRC. “Thanks to efforts of those like TI and the State of Texas, these universities will work with industry on initial research needed to enable future breakthroughs in nanoelectronics. This progress is crucial to the nation and the world’s continued economic growth.”
Conventional electronics use electrical fields to control the flow of electrons using only their charge, but other observed phenomena at the atomic level may be able to process vastly more information while using less power. The SWAN research will focus on development of computing devices that leverage quantum properties such as spin and phase to represent the 1′s and 0′s of modern digital electronics. By creating a multi-university center, SWAN will optimize the outcome by promoting collaboration and coordinating resources.
“The University of Texas System is making significant investments in its faculty, facilities and students to build world class engineering and advanced research programs at its institutions,” said Mark G. Yudof, chancellor of The University of Texas System. “This nanoelectronics initiative – through the efforts of SWAN and the other NRI centers – will help build momentum across the state and the nation and ensure that Texas is a leader in this vital industry and is well positioned for future success.”
The UT System Board of Regents in July approved $10 million for funding facilities, labs and capital equipment for eight senior faculty members.
Funds from TI, the State of Texas, the UT System and NERC will support the initial three-year program. Additional opportunities for expanded exploration are anticipated among the participants beyond the basic research phase. SWAN research activities will be supported by a number of UT System institutions including the Arlington, Austin and Dallas campuses , as well as Texas A&M University, Rice University, Arizona State University, the University of Maryland and the University of Notre Dame.