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Boise State joins nationwide microelectronics program

Boise State University is joining a $34 million effort to accelerate the innovation and creation of new approaches in microelectronics, including energy-efficient semiconductor materials and technologies. The university is part of a larger national, multi-university award from the newly launched Joint University Microelectronics (JUMP) 2.0 program of the Semiconductor Research Corporation. 

“Boise State has the opportunity as a university to play a large role at the forefront of semiconductor research and education,” College of Engineering Dean JoAnn S. Lighty said. “The new JUMP 2.0 center, in partnership with SRC, strengthens the quality and support our researchers will receive and enhances the larger efforts related to microelectronics and semiconductors at Boise State, the state of Idaho and the intermountain region.”

The SUPREME Center

Boise State joins the SUPeRior Energy-efficient Materials and dEvices (SUPREME) Center, which is one of the seven research centers established by the program. The center brings top researchers from 14 higher education institutions together. The center is directed by lead Cornell University and Director Huili Grace Xing, professor at Cornell, and Associate Director Tomás Palacios, professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The SUPREME Center’s multidisciplinary teams of faculty, staff and students aim to develop new materials and devices for a 10x improvement in microelectronic system performance. SUPREME focuses on fundamental materials discovery and new device architectures, and the connections between them.

Partners include Cornell University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Boise State; Georgia Institute of Technology; North Carolina State University; Northwestern University; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Rochester Institute of Technology; Stanford University; Yale University; the University of Colorado, Boulder; the University of Texas, Austin; the University of California, Santa Barbara; and the University of Notre Dame.

JUMP 2.0 and the seven research centers across the country are part of the Electronic Resurgence Initiative of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. This initiative and SRC support provide the program with a strong connection to industry member needs and university research tasks. 

Atomic-Level Approach

Boise State’s activities in the SUPREME Center will be led by Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering’s Associate Director and Associate Professor Elton Graugnard. Graugnard will lead the center’s efforts in the scalable synthesis of new materials, including two-dimensional materials, and materials for ultra-fast and efficient logic and memory devices.

“We are extremely excited to be a part of the SUPREME Center. Research in 2D materials and other novel materials classes has made tremendous progress in the past decade,” Graugnard said. “My team’s work focuses on processes that integrate these new materials into scalable manufacturing. To really get the most out of these new materials, we have to be able to make them in a way that industry can deploy at a high volume.”

Graugnard directs the Atomic Films Laboratory conducting research on the fundamental science underpinning atomic layer deposition (ALD) and atomic layer etching (ALE), which are processes used in current high-volume manufacturing of semiconductor devices.

“Our group digs into the details of the ALD and ALE, so we know what’s happening at the atomic levels during the processes,” Graugnard said. “Devices are more complex than ever, so the challenge is to understand all the possible chemical reactions, all the surfaces, and all the interfaces that will be involved in the process. Fortunately, we have really great students to tackle these challenges.”

Graugnard says JUMP 2.0 will be a great opportunity for students at Boise State to perform research at the leading edge of science and engineering and build direct connections with the world’s leading semiconductor companies.