LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The National Science Foundation
and a consortium of companies seeking to accelerate
nanoelectronics research announced they are providing
$2 million to five university centers, including
one based at Purdue University's Discovery Park.
The Purdue-based Network
for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN), created
in 2002 with a five-year, $10.5 million NSF grant,
will share the $2 million with four other centers:
• The Center for Nanoscopic Materials at the University
• The Materials Research Science and Engineering
Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
• The Center for Electronic Transport in Molecular
Nanostructures at Columbia University.
• The Center for Nanoscale Systems and their Device
Applications at Harvard University.
The $2 million is coming from the NSF and the Nanoelectronics
Research Corp., an industry consortium that is a
subsidiary of the Semiconductor Industry Association,
which is based in San Jose, Calif. The consortium
is designed to provide a competitive advantage to
its member companies by delivering technical talent
and early research findings from universities.
The money will be used to help the NCN tackle a
critical question related to the inevitable demise
of Moore's Law, a general rule that is central to
the evolution and success of the computer industry.
The rule states that the number of transistors on
a computer chip doubles about every 18 months, driving
rapid progress in computers and telecommunications.
Doubling the number of devices that can fit on a
computer chip translates into a similar increase
in performance. Because this doubling requires circuits
to be made smaller and smaller, it is thought the
limits of physics will soon make it impossible to
continue at the same pace, or that it eventually
will become too expensive to shrink circuits any
more, hindering further progress.
Some observers have predicted Moore's Law will hit
a brick wall in about a decade. At that point, conventional
computer chips, called "CMOS," for complementary
metal oxide semiconductor chips, will have to be
replaced with a new technology.
"The big question in electronics today is: What
lies beyond Moore's Law?" said Mark
Lundstrom , NCN director and Purdue's Don and
Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical
and Computer Engineering.
"This new funding is critical because it will enable
us to expand our research team with four new students
who will be dedicated to looking very specifically
at the question of whether there is an electronic
device that can replace or complement the CMOS transistor
when Moore's Law ends. This is an especially exciting
and important time, and we are pleased that NCN and
Purdue have an opportunity to work with the NSF and
the electronics industry to help define 21st century
With the four additional students, Purdue and the
NCN have about 70 graduate students on its research
The funding announcement was made Dec. 8 during
the third conference on Silicon Nanoelectronics and
Beyond at the National Science Foundation, where
two new university-based nanoelectronics research
centers also were unveiled. A news release about
the overall announcement is available at http://www.prnewswire.com/news/index_mail.shtml.
Nanoelectronics focuses on creating a new class
of electronic devices that contain features measured
in nanometers, or billionths of a meter. A nanometer
is about the size of 10 atoms strung together.
The NCN uses advanced theory and simulations to
explore new ideas for digital switching devices,
such as innovative types of transistors, which promise
to help researchers create future electronics. The
NCN is located at the Birck
Nanotechnology Center in Discovery Park, Purdue's
hub for interdisciplinary research. A major focus
of the NCN is to assemble diverse teams of researchers
to create computer simulations that show the entire
workings of a design – from its tiniest, nearly atomic-scale
basic building blocks, to its largest components,
which are visible to the naked eye.
"We are the only team in the nation that's focusing
on theory and modeling and simulation, so we have
been given a very special role," Lundstrom said. "All
of the other teams are experimental teams, and our
mission is really to interact with all of those other
teams and to lead the theory, modeling and simulation
Simulations that combine all the parts of a design
will be key to using nanotechnology for creating
future computers, diagnostic devices for medicine,
sensors for homeland security and environmental monitoring,
and other potential applications.
Lundstrom is working with key NCN researchers at
Purdue, including Supriyo Datta, Ashraf Alam, Kaushik
Roy and Gerhard Klimeck, all professors of electrical
and computer engineering, and Jayathi Murthy, a professor
of mechanical engineering.
Other university members of the NCN are the University
of Illinois, the University of Florida, Norfolk State
University, Northwestern University, Stanford University
and the University of Texas, El Paso.
Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Mark Lundstrom, (765) 494-3515, email@example.com
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org