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ODU joins UVA and W&M in Nanoelectronics Research Initiative

Old Dominion University is part of a new research consortium looking to develop next-generation computers.

The Virginia Nanoelectrics Center (ViNC) is a coalition of researchers at ODU, the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary who will work together to explore and develop advanced materials, novel devices and circuits at the nanoscale dimension. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.

ODU's Helmut Baumgart, Virginia Microelectronics Consortium Professor, is co-principal investigator for grant funding that established the initiative, along with ViNC director Stuart Wolf, a professor at UVa. Other co-PIs include Mircea Stan and Lloyd Harriott of UVA and Ale Lukaszew of W&M. The new center will operate through an affiliation with UVa's Institute for Nanoscale and Quantum Scientific and Technological Advanced Research.

An important aspect of the ViNC researchers' work will be the discovery and development of advanced information technologies. Scientists generally agree that the fundamental limits of the current microelectronics technology, known as complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology, will be reached in the next decade. ViNC will seek to develop novel devices and circuits for "beyond CMOS" nanoelectronics.

The center's initial project is the development of information processing based on vanadium dioxide in place of traditional technologies. This approach offers the benefit of smaller size and faster processing at much lower power.

ViNC is supported by the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), a consortium funded by the major semiconductor companies Micron Technology, Intel, IBM and Texas Instruments, as well as the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

The commonwealth of Virginia is also supporting ViNC through the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium (VMEC), an industry-university state-funded consortium whose aim is the promotion of microelectronics in Virginia.

The center is being established with startup grants from NRI and VMEC, along with matching funds from the three universities, for a total of nearly $1.7 million over two years. The center's projects are also funded by the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The ultimate goal is to help ensure that this next-generation technology is pioneered and perfected in the United States, which could result in a substantial amount of jobs and money for the U.S. and Virginia economies.

ODU's Baumgart is a professor at the Applied Research Center (ARC), located adjacent to the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News. His current research includes work in semiconductor device processing, gate stack engineering, atomic layer disposition technology of electronic thin film materials, silicon-on-insulator technology and germanium-on-insulator technology.

ARC is a consortium of four local universities, including ODU, whose collaborative goal is to be a leader in applied research such as this.

This article was posted on: May 27, 2011

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