News & Insights for the AI Journey|Monday, April 22, 2019
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New Florida Chip R&D Center Targets Sensors 

It's been a good month for advanced manufacturing research in the U.S. with an expansion of a government smart manufacturing effort followed this week by a new chip design effort in Florida that will focus on high-speed electronics and photonics for use in a range of sensor platforms.

The Belgian nanoelectronics research center Imec announced Friday (July 8) that it would open a new research center in Osceola, Fla., in collaboration with the local campus of the University of Central Florida. Also enlisted for the chip manufacturing effort is the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research.

The partners said they would establish a chip fab to develop and produce so-called III-V semiconductor devices on silicon for sensor and photonics applications.

The launch of a new chip manufacturing R&D center comes weeks after the Obama administration announced a series of smart manufacturing research hubs along with a competition to create new public private R&D centers expected to leverage HPC, cloud and analytics technologies.

Imec, Leuven, Belgium, sponsors semiconductor research focused on nano-electronics, photovoltaics and related manufacturing technology. The Florida design center would serve as a base for collaborating with U.S. chipmakers and platform developers along with universities and research institutes.

The partners said initial research would focus on photonics and high-speed electronics along with chip design capabilities for manufacturing devices ranging from THz and Lidar sensors to imagers. The chip design capabilities also will be integrated with the manufacturing consortium's research.

The partners said they would leverage Imec's chip design, prototyping and low-volume production service designed to broaden access to chip foundry services.

The chip design center is reminiscent of earlier attempts at boosting U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, including a federally funded R&D effort launched in the 1980s called Sematech. The smart manufacturing effort announced by the Obama administration in June includes several chipmakers such as Analog Devices and Global Foundries.

The White House initiative also includes a partnership between the U.S.-funded Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute and a energy group called PowerAmerica to showcase potential energy savings using advanced sensors in the production of new wide bandgap semiconductor circuit boards.

Funding for the Florida chip R&D center will come from Osceola County and the University of Central Florida. Organizers said the new center would help attract chip researchers through "future strategic partnerships." The initial plan is to hire about 10 scientists and engineers by the end of 2016, expanding to 100 researchers over the next five years, the partners said.

Bert Gyselinckx, an Imec vice president, will head the Florida research center as general manager. Gyselinckx previously served as general manager of the chip researcher's center in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. He is credited with co-inventing technologies used by chipmakers and consumer electronics companies.

More details about the goals of the Florida research center will be announced during a semiconductor industry conference in San Francisco on July 11.

 

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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