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January 23, 2013

University of Texas Researchers Working on Microelectronics Studies for Improved Technology

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas are working on two key research projects related to computer technology. While one group will study replacing silicon in integrated circuits, the other group is working on computers which can communicate with each other.

The goal of the first group is quicker technology which uses less power. Kyeongjae “K.J.” Cho, Moon Kim and Robert “Bob” Wallace, professors of materials science and engineering at UT Dallas are participating in STARnet’s Center for Low Energy Systems Technology (LEAST) as part of the project. STARnet is formally known as the Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research Network.

LEAST researchers want to replace 3-D silicon with nanoscale substances.

The UT Dallas LEAST project will get some $3.4 million over five years. They will study dichalcogenides. “The key for future transistor applications will be combining these 2-D materials with other types of materials such as insulators and metals used in integrated circuits to find the most powerful and efficient combination,” Wallace said in a statement on

The other research group will work on designing computers to communicate with each other. The goal is prevent traffic accidents or minimize risk in an emergency. Roozbeh Jafari, assistant professor of electrical engineering and Carl Sechen, professor of electrical engineering at UT Dallas, are involved in STARnet’s TerraSwarm Research Center on the project.

TerraSwarm involves billions of sensors and actuators. “The possibilities of this type of shared sensing platform will revolutionize society,” Jafari predicted in a University of Texas statement. “A fully integrated cyber-physical world presents limitless opportunities.”

TerraSwarm will get more than $900,000 over five years as part of the study. It will lead to self-powered sensors and computers, creating a network for thousands of smart sensing devices.

Overall, the two projects are part of a $194 million national network.

“The top programs in the nation want to partner with us in two different areas of technology to help our country continue to lead in microelectronics,” Mark W. Spong, dean of the University of Texas School of Engineering and Computer Science, said in a recent statement.

The LEAST Center is led by the University of Notre Dame and the TerraSwarm Research Center is led by the University of California, Berkeley. Industry partners of STARnet include Applied Materials, GLOBALFOUNDRIES Inc., IBM (News - Alert), Intel Corp., Micron Technology Inc., Raytheon Co., Texas Instruments Inc. and United Technologies Corp.

STARnet will give out $194 million over the next five years to 39 universities for semiconductor research.

"By developing the next generation of semiconductor technologies, the STARnet program will help keep America at the forefront of innovation and ensure the long-term success of the U.S. semiconductor industry,” Brian Toohey, the Semiconductor Industry Association’s (SIA) president and CEO, commented in a statement carried on TMCnet.

Also, John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president, director of IBM Research and SIA vice chairman, added in the statement that "STARnet is a shining example of the semiconductor industry's rich tradition of partnering with government and universities to drive American innovation."        

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Edited by Jamie Epstein
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