Chip makers in the U.S. want to establish a national institute for nanoelectronics research as they approach the physical limits of current semiconductor technology, expected in about 15 years.
The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) in San Jose, Calif., said Wednesday its members are in talks with universities and the federal government about creating and funding a Nanoelectronics Research Institute. The proposed institute, according to SIA, will be responsible for directing and coordinating a “massive research effort” to assure continued U.S. competitiveness as manufacturers move to new production technologies.
Plans of launching a nanoelectronics research center in the U.S. come just days after the German government confirmed negotiations with local industry about establishing a similar research center in Dresden.
For several decades, semiconductor manufacturers have been able to keep shrinking transistors and other electronic components to improve chips’ processing and storage capabilities. The ability to double chip performance every one to two years is often called Moore’s Law, after Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore.
But to deliver continuous improvements in computers, mobile devices and consumer-electronic products, chip makers realize they can’t endlessly squeeze more into existing CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) technology, according to SIA. Instead, they will need to develop new chips with features that are measured in nanometers, it said. One nanometer is one one-billionth of a meter.
SIA is proposing the new nanoelectronics initiative as a joint effort of chip makers, academia and government. Under the plan, researchers from universities and manufacturers would collaborate to identify and test new production materials and techniques, which would replace today’s technologies.
Money is likely to be an issue. U.S. research and development efforts in semiconductor technology face a shortfall this year of approximately US$1.5 billion to stay current with the CMOS technology plan outlined in the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, SIA said.