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The Nanoscope: Big News in Small Science


Microelectronics Momentum Drives the Nation’s Semiconductor Resurgence 

The world’s dependence on semiconductors came into sharp focus in 2021, when automotive manufacturing ground to a halt because of massive computer chip shortages – as Asian suppliers couldn’t keep up with demand for microelectronics –  miniaturized electronic circuits and components that drive everything from smartphones to new vehicle components to hypersonics weapons systems.

The culprit was global supply chain disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The crisis has highlighted the pressing need for the U.S. to bolster its domestic semiconductor supply chains and industrial capacity, after three decades of decline as a semiconductor producer. The U.S. share of global semiconductor fabrication has dropped to 12% today, compared to 37% in 1990, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). In addition, the semiconductor industry today only accounts for 250,000 direct U.S. jobs.

As the country rebuilds its semiconductor infrastructure at home, Georgia Tech serves as a vital partner – to train the microelectronics workforce, drive future microelectronics advances, and provide unique fabrication and packaging facilities for industry, academic and government partners to develop and test new solutions.

“We’re one of the only universities that can support the whole microelectronics stack – from new materials and devices to packaging and systems,” said Madhavan Swaminathan, the John Pippin Chair in Microsystems Packaging in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering  and director of the 3D Systems Packaging Research Center.

Swaminathan, an IEEE Fellow and former IBM expert on packaging for supercomputers, observed that in today’s complex semiconductor sector, it’s not enough to focus on a single device or process since they must coexist in a stack with other devices and processes as part of a larger system.

“When you have a stack, innovations can come from a top-down or bottom-up direction, and both are critical,” said Swaminathan. “At the top of the stack are applications that drive the technologies. But sometimes it can start at the bottom and go up such as when you develop a new material, device, or packaging technology that can improve existing applications.” 


Read the Full Article Here

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Muhannad Bakir, a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, holding a monolithic microelectronics chip. He brings a breadth of knowledge to the shift from monolithic microelectronics to heterogeneous integration. (Photo credit: Robert Felt, Georgia Tech)

Researchers Lead Microelectronics Advances from Lab-to-fab, Bolstered by Synergy with GTRI

A hotbed for semiconductor innovation, the Georgia Institute of Technology offers deep domain expertise in device and integration technologies, as well as high-assurance tools for chip security. The Institute, along with Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), leads in areas such as emerging materials/devices, innovative circuit/architectures, and advanced integration and packaging.

“One thing I love about Georgia Tech is that you have expertise in every single aspect of electronics,” said Muhannad Bakir, Dan Fielder electrical engineering professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “If I have questions on materials, devices, architectures, circuits, or even software compilers, I don’t have to look far. I turn a corner and there is that expert for you.”

Bakir credited this breadth of knowledge at Georgia Tech with helping the Institute be a leader in shifting from monolithic microelectronics to “heterogeneous” integration. In this type of integration, separately manufactured components become part of a higher-level assembly that, in total, provides enhanced functionality and improved operating characteristics for applications.

“We have to look at a whole host of issues in order to continue to drive cost, performance and energy benefits going forward,” explained Bakir as to the reasons behind this development.

His team is identifying and optimizing the processes and materials of different microelectronic components to get the most out of each one. They then are integrating the different pieces into a single, high-performing system.  Specifically, Bakir is developing new ways to glue or wire these interconnect technologies together in a way that maximizes their performance.

Edgar Garay, a doctoral candidate at Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, reviews a set of filaments as part of a  review his microchip design for his startup, Falcomm. (Photo: Matt Hummel)

Georgia Tech Student’s Microchip Startup Reduces Energy Waste, Amplifies Power Systems in 5G Space


In 2015, Edgar Garay sent an email to a Georgia Tech professor asking to join his lab.

“I want to go to your lab because I want to improve the efficiency of power amplifiers,” Garay wrote in his email to Hua Wang, Garay’s advisor and director of the Electronics and Micro-System Lab in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

That email set Garay, a Ph.D. candidate, on path of research and discovery that led him to launch his own startup, 
Falcomm. Founded on his doctoral research in Wang’s lab, Garay’s company is a microchip design startup focused on improving energy efficiency. Its ultra-efficient, silicon-based power amplifiers and front-end modules (FEM will be used in 5G technology, the fifth-generation global wireless standard for machines, objects, and devices.

Garay’s work specifically focuses on issues related to thermal management challenges in 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) technology, which refers to super-high frequency bands for transmission of data and information.

Award Alert

Dupuis Selected as Benjamin Franklin Medal Recipient

Russell Dupuis Russell Dupuis has been named as a co-recipient of the 2022 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering. He and his fellow laureates will be honored for their achievements during The Franklin Institute Awards Week, to be held May 2-5, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Now in its 197th year, The Franklin Institute Awards Program pays tribute to its namesake and America’s first citizen scientist, Benjamin Franklin, by honoring 13 individuals for their extraordinary achievements in science, engineering, and business leadership. This awards program is the oldest comprehensive science and technology awards program in the United States and has recognized more than 2,000 of the most pioneering scientists, engineers, inventors, and innovators from across the globe.

Dupuis is being honored for pioneering the technology known as MOCVD (metalorganic chemical vapor deposition). This technology provides the materials quality and ultra-precision required for many device components central to modern life, including LEDS, transistors, lasers, and high-performance solar cells.

Read more here.
Cleanroom Corner
Nanoscribe Photonics 3D Printer Upgrade – GT to GT2

IENs iS50-FTIR spectrometer
This month we are focusing on the\ upgraded capabilities of our Nanoscribe (located in the Marcus Biocleanroom). A major challenge is when we scale up to a usable part size in the micron scale, we are hit with very long print times that can last a whole week! For example, a print that is 1cm x 1 cm x 500 μm will take 96 hours to print. The new upgrade allows for faster printing by reducing the time by a factor of 10. Fom Nanoscribe CEO Martin Hermatschweiler, “With this relaunch of our extremely successful generation of Photonic Professional devices, we have now succeeded in overcoming previous physical limitations and increasing the performance of the devices by a factor of up to 10 in terms of productivity and speed."
Maximum print size in the Z direction has increased from 2mm to 8mm allowing for much larger parts to be constructed without sacrificing the resolution that comes with 2-Photon-Polymerization. This tool comes with a new resist, IP-Q, designed to print these large structures. This resist is geared to microfluidic “lab on a chip” development where researchers will be able to rapidly prototype different microfluidic chambers to assist with their designs. With this new addition to the Marcus Cleanrooms, we can provide faster and better solutions to researchers who are working in this new field of medicine & POC devices.
Contact: Andrew Watkins
External Media Alert

Stretchy Semiconductor Detects Very Low Levels of Light
Kyungjin Kim demonstrating a stretched elastomer film. While at Georgia Tech, Kim was co-advised by Olivier Pierron, professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and by Samuel Graham, former chair of the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.   (Photo credit: Kyungjin Kim )

Photodetectors are devices made from a synthetic polymer and an elastomer that absorbs light to produce an electrical current.

Semiconductors are moving away from rigid substrates, which are cut or formed into thin discs or wafers, to more flexible plastic material and even paper thanks to new material and fabrication discoveries. The trend toward more flexible substrates has led to fabrication of numerous devices, from light-emitting diodes to solar cells and transistors.

The new material is up to 200% more stretchable than its original dimension without significantly losing its electric current.

The researchers say their new flexible photodetectors could enhance the utility of medical wearable sensors and implantable devices, among other applications.

Read the Release at Futurity Here

Creative Epitaxy: Finding Ways to Violate Assumptions that Breach Material Barriers

BlueJeans link:

January 11, 2022 | 12PM - 1PM EDT

W. Alan Doolittle | Professor; School of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Abstract: Epitaxial processes are considered routine for applications spanning established industries from the silicon and GaN semiconductor industries to cutting edge research.  As many as 10,000 epitaxial reactors crank out billions of dollars’ worth of light emitting diode chips for solid state white lighting alone. Those metrics increase 100-fold for silicon applications.  Epitaxy is core to countless industries but is mostly performed in ways that have not changed for decades.  But epitaxy can also be performed in non-standard ways to overcome “perceived” barriers to materials synthesis. Several examples will be given in this talk including: 1) Dynamic control of surface chemistry so as to enable higher solubility of desirable impurities; 2) Dynamic control of surface energy facilitating 3D control of alloy composition and material properties; 3) Electrothermal control of epitaxy to enable metastable phase materials; and 4) the “invention” of the widest semiconductor known.  Each of these example problems has been solved by a common “thought process” wherein the fundamental assumption behind the limitation was defined and ways of violating the identified assumption was explored leading to new functionality in materials. The importance of the process – assumption identification and violation – will be discussed in hopes of conveying an important approach to solving hard problems. New emerging industries such as optoelectronics, neuromorphic computing and power electronics will be highlighted as beneficiaries of these unique approaches.

Nano@Tech Spring 2022 Schedule

WEDNESDAY January 26 | Pettit 102 A&B | Alper Erturk | School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
February 8 | Marcus 1116-1118 | Martin Mourigal | School of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology
February 22 | Pettit 102 A&B | Lauren Garten | School of Materials Science & Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
March 8 | Pettit 102 A&B | Jin Xie | School of Chemistry, University of Georgia
March 29 | Marcus 1116-1118 | Leslie Chan | School of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech & Emory
April 12 | Pettit 102 A&B| Carson Meredith | School of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology       
April 26 | Marcus 1116-1118 | Aniruddh Sarkar | School of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech & Emory
Save the Date!!

Atlanta Science Festival Graphic March 19th, 2022
Science & Engineering Day @ the Georgia Institute of Technology | March 19th, 2022
Over 26 Campus Units & Student Organizations Involved

Activities in a Diverse Range of S&E Disciplines
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical & Materials Engineering
  • Computing & Technology
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Microscopy & Imaging in Science
  • Nanotechnology
  • Neuroscience
  • Robotics
  • AMA's with Engineers & Scientists
  • Gallery: The Intersection of Art & Sciences
  • Exhibit: Retro Tech
Hand's on Exhibits
Lab Tours

Check the Event Site in February for More Details

Vaccines Available

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Get Your Weekly Test

Testing continues to be available during the summer. If you're on campus and have not been vaccinated, keep testing weekly to help make campus as safe and healthy as possible.


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