Rensselaer Awarded Microelectronics Center
New York State Support Helped to Undergird
Troy, N.Y. — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has been awarded
a Center for Advanced Interconnect Systems Technologies (CAIST)
by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) to support
research in microelectronic interconnect technologies, the
backbone of the next generation of computer technology.
The three-year program is valued at more than $9 million,
which includes $500,000 per year from New York state. The SRC
will provide $1.5 million per year, and IBM will provide a
minimum of $1 million per year in cash, scholarships, and
equipment. Rensselaer will provide $250,000 per year in
administrative costs and technical support.
Toh-Ming Lu, the Ray Palmer Baker Distinguished Professor at
Rensselaer, will direct the CAIST. David Duquette, chair of
materials science and engineering at Rensselaer, and Paul Ho,
director of the Laboratory for Interconnect and Packaging at
the University of Texas-Austin, will serve as associate
The CAIST will draw on the expertise of New York researchers
from Rensselaer, Columbia, Rochester, Cornell, and the
University at Albany. It will combine that expertise with that
of researchers from seven other universities around the
country: Georgia Institute of Technology, University of
Texas-Austin, MIT, UC Berkeley, University of Maryland, North
Texas University, and Texas Tech. Of the 20 total research
projects within the CAIST, more than half are with New York
schools and six of those are at Rensselaer.
“The CAIST will assist the nation’s microelectronics,
telecommunication, and supplier industries. It will determine
their technological needs, identify areas of long-term
technological relationship, and build partnerships that will
advance economic growth here in New York state,” said
Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson.
“The challenges facing the semiconductor industry in the
interconnect area require the depth of experience and great
expertise that Rensselaer and its partners in CAIST have built
over the years,” said John Kelly, senior vice president and
group executive of the IBM Technology Group.
The research planned in this center will produce critical new
concepts and technology innovations required for the industry,
and will continue to provide well-trained and highly motivated
students to serve the needs of the semiconductor industry
workforce in the next decade and beyond, according to Ralph
Cavin, vice president, research operations, at the SRC.
CAIST research will focus on increasing the performance of the
interconnects on microelectronic chips through the use of
advanced materials and 3-D chip stacking. Present
interconnection technology is unable to keep pace with devices
that can switch on or off in less than a billionth of a second.
This limits the speed of computation, explained Lu.
The economic benefits CAIST will provide to New York state are
already in evidence. Work in the previous CAIST led to the
designation of the Focus Center - New York, headquartered at
the University at Albany and shared equally by Rensselaer. In
addition, CAIST has spawned new start-up companies such as
Crystal IS, which works in high bandgap semiconductors and
solid-state lighting, and Z-omega, which tests terahertz (THz)
speed chips that will be used for cancer detection. Polyset, a
smaller company, is launching a major effort to commercialize a
product that was invented through CAIST research.
CAIST is a catalyst for growth in the microelectronics
industry in New York. Large companies such as IBM, Kodak, GE,
AT&T, and CVC have benefited from CAIST research including
innovations in copper chip technology and low k
CAIST will also continue to produce top-quality students to
serve the needs of the semiconductor industry workforce in the
next two decades.
The CAIST will advance research that was conducted in the
former Center for Interconnect Science and Technology at
Rensselaer. That center, which served from 1996 to 2001, also
was supported by the SRC.
Contact: Patricia Azriel
Phone: (518) 276-6531