UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State held a Town Hall meeting recently to discuss internal strategies around semiconductor technologies and taking on a key role in partnering with other universities and industries centered on the U.S. government’s CHIPS (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors) and Science Act, which was signed into law on Aug. 9, 2022. The intent of this meeting was to share Penn State’s significant and spanning capabilities and expertise and facilitate internal alignment. Meetings have already taken place and will continue to occur with other university, industry, and state partners.
The CHIPS and Science Act spawned multiple funding-driven opportunities to position the U.S. as a leader in these fields, with various major new and upcoming programs sponsored by the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.
To best address some of these opportunities, Penn State is creating the Mid-Atlantic Semiconductor Hub (MASH) with nine other academic partners, industry, and state governments to lead and leverage the cumulative expertise in this area.
As another example of Penn State’s current involvement in semiconductor programs, the recently funded Center for Heterogeneous Integration of Micro Electronic Systems (CHIMES) was a major step in partnering to address global needs in the semiconductor space. CHIMES was announced by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC)’s Joint University Microelectronics Program 2.0 (JUMP 2.0), a consortium of industrial partners in cooperation with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The SRC funded $32.7 million to the Penn State-led Center.
Several years ago, recognizing the gaps in semiconductor technology research in the United States and the dependency on other countries, Penn State’s Materials Research Institute (MRI) and Department of Electrical Engineering began prioritizing semiconductor research to better meet the needs of our national demand. Several industrial partners have also been part of this journey. Penn State has a deep commitment to interdisciplinary research as an institutional strength, including fields related to the CHIPS and Science Act such as semiconductor materials, devices, packaging, optics, thermal management/efficiencies, computation, and quantum devices. This includes a strong history in 2D materials research. All of these opportunities come with significant emphasis on workforce development, where Penn State has considerable strength to train the next generation of leaders, scientists, engineers, and manufacturers across all the manufacturing domains inherent in CHIPS needs.
"Semiconductor and chip technology have been tremendous strengths for Penn State for several years, visible in our national rankings as No. 1 and No. 2 for materials science and materials engineering,” stated Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research, “This is why Penn State is an obvious choice to lead programs around the CHIPS and Science Act, and bring global recognition back home to the United States.“
Developing a strategy within the upcoming programs under the CHIPs and Science Act is the next step in leveraging Penn State’s record as a leader in the semiconductor space. The Town Hall was held to provide an update on this strategy and to discuss areas where Penn State excels and can bring positive momentum to national goals for semiconductor technology, packaging, workforce development, and education.
"By partnering with neighboring universities within the Mid-Atlantic region, we are creating a synergistic hub that combines expertise in semiconductor and microelectronics with unique resources, skills, and strengths in packaging, communications, electronic design, and workforce development,” said Daniel Lopez, director of the MRI’s Nanofabrication Laboratory and Liang Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Our goal in creating MASH is to generate a new paradigm for coordinated workforce development and collaborative research that will quickly transition technologies and restore the preeminence of the U.S. in microelectronics.”
Speakers in the open forum Town Hall included Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research, Daniel Lopez, director of MRI’s Nanofabrication Laboratory and Liang Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Susan Trolier-McKinstry, Evan Pugh University Professor and Steward S. Flaschen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering; and Madhavan Swaminathan, head of electrical engineering and William E. Leonhard Endowed Chair in Penn State College of Engineering’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The slides from the meeting can be downloaded at this link.
The University has also created a form for any faculty or industry members who would like to be part of the possible Hub initiative; the form can be found here. Questions or comments can be sent to email@example.com.