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Rensselaer Receives $600,000 for Microelectronics Research

June 22, 2001

Mechanicville Company Will Produce New Polymer

Troy, N.Y. — Governor George E. Pataki announced June 19 that Rensselaer received $300,000 in funding to evaluate a new microelectronics insulating material that has the potential to double the processing speed of microchips. The Polyset Company in Mechanicville, along with other resources, will provide an additional $300,000 in funding for a total of $600,000 for the two-year project.

The money is part of $1 million in awards to four institutions through the New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research (NYSTAR)’s Technology Transfer Incentive Program.

“Over the past six years, we’ve invested heavily in high-tech research and economic development, and now we’re looking to kick things into high gear with our new $1 billion Centers of Excellence initiative,” said Governor Pataki. “This unprecedented plan will help turn cutting-edge innovations into new employment opportunities allowing us to compete and win in the worldwide battle to attract and retain the new technology-based jobs of the 21st century.”

James Crivello, professor of chemistry at Rensselaer, developed and patented a process for making pure multifunctional epoxy siloxane resins, which are considered to be the next-generation insulating material for a range of micro-and optoelectronics applications. Rensselaer will evaluate these novel resins for use as interlayer dielectrics in all integrated circuit applications, such as insulators in microelectronics packaging, and as waveguides in optoelectronics on a chip, in a package, or in optical communication.

Rensselaer has issued a license to the Polyset Company to manufacture and market the resins, and will evaluate and optimize the materials for commercialization. Polyset currently markets the materials for use in electronic packaging, but the company could enjoy explosive growth in sales by proving the product’s suitability for wafer-level and photonics applications. This research is expected to create new markets for a material that is manufactured in New York state and add at least 100 new high-tech jobs in the next four to five years.

“As it moves from aluminum to copper interconnects, the microelectronics industry needs new low-dielectric-constant (low-k) insulators to support its drive to produce smaller, faster devices,” says Toh-Ming Lu, the Ray Palmer Baker Distinguished Professor of Physics at Rensselaer and director of Rensselaer’s Center for Advanced Interconnect Science and Technology (CAIST). Lu is principal investigator and manager of the project. “Silicon dioxide, the material now used on most chips, has a dielectric constant of about 4. Some companies have already begun to manufacture chips using dielectric constant of 2.8. A strong market exists for a material with a value of around 2.2. But given the high cost and high risks involved in semiconductor manufacturing, industry will not be willing to use any new low-k material until it has been demonstrated to be reliable and practical for manufacturing.”

Co-PIs on the project are Shyam Murarka, The Elaine S. and Jack S. Parker Chair in Engineering, who pioneered the use of copper interconnects, and physics professor Peter Persans. Murarka was responsible for the Focus Center-New York program at Rensselaer, a partner in the national Focus Research Center (FRC) on interconnects.

Rensselaer, a pioneer in developing and testing new electronics materials, has a strong track record in industry cooperation and technology transfer. Rensselaer’s Office of Technology and Commercialization has received 66 patents and has 50 more pending. The partnership with Polyset offers the opportunity to transfer the technology represented by one of these patents to the multibillion dollar electronics industry.

Governor Pataki also announced the award of $500,000 to establish an Advanced Biotechnology Incubator at SUNY Downstate Heath Science Center in Brooklyn. Cornell University received $102,500 to work with Marmotech Inc. of Ithaca, and $90,000 was awarded to SUNY Albany’s Center for Advanced Technology in Thin Films to work with MTI-Instruments Inc.

Contact: Megan Galbraith
Phone: (518) 276-6531
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