Penn State researchers part of $194 million STARnet semiconductor effort

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A group of Penn State researchers are part of a five-year, $194 million research effort recently announced by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) to support continued growth and leadership in the U.S. semiconductor industry.

Dubbed the Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research network (STARnet), the initiative involves six new university microelectronics research centers in the United States. Penn State faculty members will be collaborating with researchers at the Center for Low Energy Systems Technology (LEAST) and the Center for Spintronic Materials, Interfaces and Novel Architectures (C-SPIN). The research work at Penn State will total approximately almost $5 million over five years.

Suman Datta, professor of electrical engineering, is the principal investigator (PI) of the University’s effort with LEAST. Theresa Mayer, distinguished professor of electrical engineering; Vijay Narayanan, professor of computer science and engineering and electrical engineering; and Joshua Robinson, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, are co-PIs.

LEAST work centers on low-power electronics, specifically nonconventional materials and quantum-engineered devices and their implementation in novel integrated circuits and computing architectures.

Datta will head an effort on quantum-engineered steep transistors and Narayanan will lead research on benchmarks, circuits and architectures.

Nitin Samarth, the George A. and Margaret M. Downsbrough Department Head of Physics, is the PI for the Penn State collaboration with C-SPIN. The center will focus on magnetic materials, spin transport, novel spin-transport materials, spintronic devices, circuits and novel architectures.

C-SPIN focuses on electron spin-based memory and computation which may help overcome the power, performance and architectural constraints of conventional complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS). CMOS technology is used in building integrated circuits for computer processors and other electronics.

The six new U.S. university microelectronics research centers affiliated with the STARnet initiative include:

  •  the Center for Future Architectures Research at the University of Michigan;
  •  the Center for Spintronic Materials, Interfaces and Novel Architectures (C-SPIN) at the University of Minnesota;
  •  the Center for Function Accelerated nanoMaterial Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles;
  •  the Center for Low Energy Systems Technology (LEAST) at the University of Notre Dame;
  •  the Center for Systems on Nanoscale Information FabriCs at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; and
  •  the TerraSwarm Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Each of these six centers is composed of several university teams jointly working toward a single goal: knocking down the barriers that limit the future of electronics,” said Jeffrey Rogers, DARPA program manager, in a release.

The entire STARnet effort includes 145 research faculty and about 400 graduate students across 39 universities.

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Last Updated April 29, 2013