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  • AmberWave, RIT Get NSF Grant
Aug 2007
SALEM, N.H., Aug. 29, 2007 -- AmberWave Systems Corp., a venture fund company for university research and development, and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) have been awarded a three-year research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore the integration of compound semiconductor devices on silicon using aspect ratio trapping (ART).

ART is a technology that may lead to faster, more powerful chips for a wide variety of applications, from silicon-based photonics to improved photovoltaic cells. ART could allow manufacturers to combine different materials onto a silicon base, forming chips that use light pulses to carry data, similar to fiber optic technology. The result would be much faster data transmission than current systems allow.

"III-V electronic materials such as those being investigated with the NSF grant have been used for years in niche markets, requiring extreme high-speed performance, optical properties or radio-frequency properties," AmberWave said in a statement. "Yet they have seen little market penetration for more mainstream applications due to the high costs and difficulty in integration with conventional, inexpensive silicon electronics. However, ART would allow manufacturers to capitalize on their investments in current manufacturing technologies, reducing considerable costs and allowing the devices to be included in a wide range of products at consumer-friendly prices."

The principal investigators working on this collaboration are Santosh Kurinec, PhD, a professor with and head of the RIT microelectronic engineering department, and Sean Rommel, PhD, a professor in the deparment.

RIT is the only institution that has a microelectronic engineering program dedicated to education and research in the area of microelectronics and nanoelectronics. It was also the first university to offer a PhD in microsystems engineering. The microelectronic engineering program is equipped with a full CMOS fabrication line run by undergraduate and graduate students. In the project with AmberWave, three students are also involved: Stuart Seig (a New Hampshire native), Raymond Krom and David Pawlik. More students will be involved as the project progresses, the university said.

“The joint venture between RIT and AmberWave is an example of our interest in cultivating technology from the ground level up,” said Richard Faubert, president and CEO of AmberWave Systems. “We are extremely enthusiastic about what the partnership will bring to the advancement of semiconductor devices.”

“This award plays on the value of industry and university collaboration and the demonstrated strengths of AmberWave in the area of epitaxial thin film electronic materials, and of RIT’s Microelectronics researchers in the area of integrating novel materials into mainstream silicon microelectronics devices to enhance performance,” said Donald Boyd, vice president for research at RIT. “This research holds the potential for seamlessly integrating III-V and silicon microelectronics to retain the best properties of each, opening up the possibility for truly massive speed improvements in memory and processor chips, integrated silicon-photonic devices for ultrahigh bandwidth fiber-optic communications, and novel radio frequency chips for wireless communications."

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