Prof. Robert Wallace, Insulator Technology Pioneer, Honored for Sustained Excellence

Oct. 22, 2007

Virtually every new semiconductor chip that’s manufactured in coming years will feature insulator technology co-invented by Robert Wallace, professor of electrical engineering and physics at the University of Texas at Dallas.

In recognition of his work, Wallace has been named a fellow of AVS – a professional society for researchers working on the science of materials, interfaces and processing.

The group, formerly known as the American Vacuum Society, elected him during the organization’s annual meeting last week. Honorees have made at least 10 years of sustained and outstanding technical contributions to materials science and related fields.

Based on the element hafnium, the insulator technology has been adopted by all major semiconductor manufacturers, enabling them to produce chips that are smaller and more energy-efficient than those available before.

Wallace’s accomplishments date back to his role as co-inventor at Texas Instruments in the mid-1990s of an insulator technology that, after years of testing, is key to now enabling semiconductor manufacturers to continue their long record of producing ever-smaller, faster and cheaper chips.

“The shrinking of the integrated circuit has enabled us all to enjoy high-performance digital technology – computers, cell phones, MP3 players, etc. – at very cheap prices,” Wallace said. “We expect cheap, faster, new technologies to come out now every year or so because of this marvelous trait of the semiconductor industry, and it’s great to be part of that.”

Now occupying lab space in the brand new $85 million Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory at UT Dallas, Wallace and his research team in the university’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science are continuing to build on his earlier work at TI.

Wallace holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author or co-author of more than 120 articles in scientific journals and proceedings. He holds 69 U.S. and international patents.

About the Jonsson School

The Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science is one of the fastest-growing engineering schools in the United States. With more than 2,500 students and nearly 100 faculty members, the school awards degrees in electrical engineering, computer science, telecommunications engineering, computer engineering, software engineering and materials science. The school is in the midst of a $300 million public-private initiative that includes the recent completion of a 192,000-square-foot interdisciplinary research building. Areas of research include analog and mixed-signal circuits and systems, bioengineering, human communication technology, information assurance and cybersecurity, nanoelectronics, and wireless communications engineering.

About UT Dallas

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 14,500 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The University offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UT Dallas, please visit the University’s Web site at

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Robert Wallace

Robert Wallace

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November 20, 2019