Scientists from UC Riverside and UC Irvine secured $ 5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to collaborate with Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico to develop a diverse education in pipeline in microelectronics. for industry and government. About $ 4 million of that amount went to UC Riverside.
"There is an urgent need for a strong national semiconductor industry and infrastructure and postgraduate research projects that equip students of all backgrounds with the skills to work in this industry," said Shane Seibert, associate professor of electrical engineering. and computer science. Principal investigator with a five-year scholarship. "We urgently need to develop human resources with advanced skills in microelectronics and related materials engineering."
Semiconductors, used in almost all areas of electronics, play an important role in everyday life. Cell phones, digital cameras, televisions, laptops, game consoles, microwave ovens, refrigerators, washing machines, and LED bulbs all use semiconductor materials. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, the U.S. share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity dropped from 37 percent in 1990 to 12 percent.
The grant comes from the National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, which is part of the Department of Energy and aims to train and employ the next generation of civilians who can detect counterfeit electronics.
Seibert explained that the United States has historically dominated the semiconductor industry. Over the years, much of semiconductor manufacturing has moved to Asia.
"The loss of a powerful national semiconductor industry poses a serious threat to national security, from chip shortages and counterfeiting to hidden malware," he said. "To revitalize the US chip industry, we need a well-trained local workforce in the fields related to microelectronics. Our project, known as MEMENCYS, combines chip editing, creation of new device components and structures, and the study of the effects of radiation in microelectronics.
Seibert, who heads UCR's nanofabrication facility, is joined by UCR chemistry professor Ludwig Bartels. Xiaoqing Pan, UCI Professor of Physics and Materials Science; and Ed Belzek, director of the Ion Beam Laboratory at Sandia National Laboratory.
Current National Science Foundation-funded undergraduate research experience Location: Summer undergraduate research programs will be conducted annually at UCR using the infrastructure developed at MacREU. Graduated students will be matched with former tutors and awarded projects that contribute to the objectives of the research partnership. Some students may join Sandia National Labs mentors. At the master's level, six graduate students will do lab work and travel to Sandia National Laboratories to work with lab staff. A postdoctoral researcher will work on the project.
The participation of Spanish students in the project is highlighted. The grant comes from the NNSA's Minority Service Agencies Partnership Program and recognizes that the project is based on contributions from individuals from all walks of life. UCR is an institution accredited to serve Hispanics with an enrollment of approximately 40% of Hispanic students. About 50% of MacREU members are Hispanic.
The project will train students on cyber security, device forensics and the effects of radiation. They will explore unanswered questions about electronic materials and quantum devices and develop hands-on experience with focused ion beams, electron microscopes, and material synthesis.
"Traditionally, we've seen low Hispanic workforce participation in STEM fields," said Ludwig Bartels, grant principal investigator and director of MacREU at UCR. "The increase in enrollments for STEM degrees, which are often seen as more challenging and require a greater time commitment, requires financial support and direct mentoring throughout the year. Once established, the support of these degree programs is not limited to. to Hispanic students and ultimately leads to a The STEM degree benefits any student who faces social and economic challenges.
With decades of experience in nanofabrication, electrical properties and superconducting devices, Seibert will oversee research on the nanofabrication of gas ion sources and superconducting electronics. Bartels, who has collaborated with researchers at Sandia National Laboratory for more than 10 years, will lead research efforts into the effects of radiation on matter, as well as lead the graduate program at UCLA. Pan will help graduate students develop innovative electron microscopy techniques for atomic-level imaging of electrical circuits and characterization of materials and radiation defects. Bielejec will connect UCR and UCI students with relevant research groups and technical staff from Sandia National Laboratories.
"Our scientific goals are to directly train graduate students in the skills and areas most needed by the NNSA and to support their placement as postdoctoral scientists in the NNSA laboratories upon graduation," said Seibert. "Our track record of advising, mentoring and graduating to a diverse group of local students indicates a very high potential for success."
Seibert and Bartels are faculty members of UCLA's Materials Science and Engineering program.