UCLA Selected to Lead New Semiconductor Research Center

UCLA has been selected to lead a new multimillion dollar research center as part of an initiative to expand semiconductor research at universities. The Functional Engineered Nano Architectonics Focus Center (FENA) will be funded by the Semiconductor Industry Association the industry's largest trade association and the Department of Defense.

The term "architectonics" is derived from a Greek word meaning "master builder," which aptly describes the center's researchers as they build a new generation of nanoscale materials, structures and devices for the electronics industry.

The new center, which has been established in the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, will receive $13.5 million over three years, and as much as $70 million over the next 10 years.

UCLA becomes the fifth site for a focus center since the Microelectronics Advanced Research Corporation, a subsidiary of the Semiconductor Industry Association, together with the Department of Defense, launched the Focus Center Research Program in 1998. FENA is the only new center established this year.

Electrical engineering professor Kang Wang has been named director of the focus center, which involves researchers from UCLA's departments of materials science, chemistry and mathematics and from 11 other universities, including the University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of California, Riverside; University of Southern California; and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The FENA researchers will explore the challenges facing the semiconductor industry as the electronic devices and circuits that power today's computers grow ever smaller. With more and more transistors and other components squeezed onto a single chip, manufacturers are rapidly approaching the physical limits posed by current chip-making processes.

Researchers hope to resolve a number of challenges related to post-CMOS technologies that will allow them to extend semiconductor technology further into the realm of the nanoscale. (CMOS, or complementary metal oxide semiconductor, is a widely used type of semiconductor technology.)

"Our work will be directed at finding new ways to scale CMOS nanoelectronics to the ultimate limit and beyond," Wang said.

"Advances in nanotechnology, molecular electronics, and quantum computing are creating the potential for new technology solutions, and we want to explore them," Wang said. "University-based research collaborations like this focus center are vital to sustaining long-term growth in the semiconductor industry."

"We are tremendously excited to be selected to lead this important research collaboration," said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of the School of Engineering. "Dr. Wang and his team have the research and administrative experience to address the current state of knowledge about nanoelectronics technologies and move it forward in a tangible way."

"UCLA has the ideal infrastructure in place to lead a center of this kind," said Wang, who also established the UCLA Nanoelectronics Facility in 1989. "We plan to collaborate with existing centers and take full advantage of the growing concentration of new technology research on the UCLA campus."

In the last two years, UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has won five competitive research centers from the federal government and private industry that will bring more than $100 million dollars to Southern California to spur research and development on emerging technologies.

The four other major research centers established in UCLA's School of Engineering in 200203 include the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing, the Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration, the Center for Nanoscience Innovation for Defense and the Center for Scalable and Integrated Nano-Manufacturing. In addition, the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute was established in 2000.

For FENA, Wang has organized an interdisciplinary team of materials scientists, chemists, physicists, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, bioengineers and mathematicians. Bruce Dunn, professor of materials science and engineering, is co-director of the new center, and electrical engineering professor Jason Woo is the extramural liaison. UCLA chemistry professor Fraser Stoddart and professor of mathematics Russel Caflisch will lead two of five research areas within the focus center.

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