UT Dallas to be Hub for Nanoelectronics Research Consortium

Texas FUSION attracting South Korean companies to Dallas area

Feb. 29, 2008

Two years from now nanoelectronic breakthroughs in university labs throughout Texas could be commercialized and ready for market, thanks to more than $14 million in new research funding to the University of Texas at Dallas.

“This is an investment in the state’s economic future,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. “The knowledge that will be transferred from our labs has the potential to help critical Texas industries such as medical, defense and telecoms compete in world markets.”

The funding will support a major research consortium with its main labs at UT Dallas. The focus will be primarily on commercialization. The amount of funding and the number of industry and university partners involved in the new consortium make it the largest research program at UT Dallas started from scratch.

Members of Texas FUSION, which comes from Future Semiconductor Commercialization, include a group of South Korean electronics companies, Samsung Austin Semiconductor, Military Tech LLC, UT Austin, UT Dallas, UT Southwestern Medical Center and UT Tyler.

Two of the biggest grants for the consortium are $6 million from the South Korean government and $5 million from Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Emerging Technology Fund to be spread over the next four years. Additional grants from the federal government and private industry bring the total to $14.4 million.

“Texas FUSION is all about streamlining the commercialization of technology through a collaborative effort involving both the business community and university researchers,” said Dr. Andrew Blanchard, a senior associate dean in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas and the project’s program manager.

Added Bob Helms, dean of the Jonsson School: “We need these types of multimillion-dollar, multi-partner research programs if we are to grow and become a major public research university.” By attracting more faculty, post-docs and graduate students, the new lab will help UT Dallas achieve a key objective of its Strategic Plan: to double the number of engineering faculty over the next 10 years.

Dual Research Roles

Once fully operational, the research consortium will explore next-generation advances that will make semiconductors smaller, faster and more energy-efficient. Some of the research projects include:

  • Low-power electronics for medical applications; nano-structures for medical and defense applications.
  • High-power, high-speed radio frequency electronics for defense applications.
  • Flexible electronics structures for defense and entertainment applications.
  • Large-scale non-volatile information storage and retrieval devices.

Besides commercialization projects, the new lab will also be the site for advanced research and development on system-on-a-chip (SoC) technology. SoCs are chips that hold all of the necessary hardware and electronic circuitry for a complete system.

“Texas FUSION fills a void between basic science and commercial applications,” said Dr. Bruce Gnade, vice president for research at UT Dallas. “With this funding and infrastructure in place, we can cover the spectrum from advanced R&D to tech transfer.”

Reverse Foreign Investment
Seven South Korean equipment and materials companies are planning to open headquarters or branch offices near the UT Dallas campus to collaborate on these nanoelectronic applications from the lab, according to Dr. Moon Kim, a professor of materials science and engineering and director of the Nano-Characterization Facility at UT Dallas, who is the project’s principal investigator. These companies are Siltron, Jusung, Dongjin Semi, Poongsan, KC Tech and DMS.

“The South Korean government is investing in this project because they see it as a way to help their companies enter the U.S. electronics market,” said Dr. Kim, who along with Dr. Jiyoung Kim, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at UT Dallas, has played a central role in attracting support from South Korea’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.

The South Korean government has funded similar research centers at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. Each institution is responsible for exploring one facet of semiconductor technology: Stanford is examining manufacturing processes, Berkeley is looking at chip design, and UT Dallas, with the largest amount of funding, is delving into new materials and equipment for future-generation chips.

Joint ownership of Texas FUSION-developed technologies will follow UT System rules for commercialization. The technologies will be available to the consortium companies as well as to other Texas-based companies with UT system licensing agreements.

The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UT Dallas initially will be involved in identifying and evaluating markets for the new technologies.

Other UT Dallas professors associated with the consortium are Dr. Robert Wallace, professor of materials science and engineering and physics; Dr. Eric Vogel, associate professor of materials science and engineering; Dr. K.J. Cho, associate professor of materials science and engineering and physics; Dr. Gil Lee, professor of electrical engineering; Dr. Walter Hu, assistant professor of electrical engineering; Dr. Robert Robb, executive committee member of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Gnade and Blanchard.


Media Contacts: Meredith Dickenson, UT Dallas (972) 883-2293, meredith.dickenson@utdallas.edu

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Texas FUSION’s goals include developing a standard means to connect electrically to carbon nanotubes, which have walls as little as one atom thick. These four images are one connector design researchers will explore.

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