By Madeline Dovi
Release Date: January 8, 2024
BUFFALO, N.Y. - The University at Buffalo has launched its Center for Advanced Semiconductor Technologies to cement its position nationally and globally as a leader in microelectronics and research innovation for the semiconductor industry.
In October, the Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse region was designated a federal tech hub following the passing of the CHIPS and Science Act in 2022 – a $280 billion effort to boost microchip research and production in the United States. The National Science Foundation followed with a $45 million investment, including funding from the CHIPS Act, into the semiconductor industry.
The Center for Advanced Semiconductor Technologies aligns strategically with these initiatives, as New York State has significant semiconductor fabrication investments, adjacent supply chain assets, and scientific and partner coalitions. The center will enable strategic research, support an entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem and provide career pathways and employment opportunities to the region’s historically underserved communities.
The center’s director will be Jonathan Bird, professor and chair of the UB Department of Electrical Engineering. He proposed the multidisciplinary approach because Buffalo “is a natural fit to catalyze advanced research and development to support the semiconductor industry and enable regional high-tech resources and a ready, STEM workforce.”
Leadership from the center will work in conjunction with UB programs and departments that have long partnered with organizations in the semiconductor industry. UB’s Center for Industrial Effectiveness will continue to foster collaborative microelectronics partnerships across campus, support new academic programs with microchip manufacturers and related industries, and will work to boost the nation’s workforce in the microelectronics industry.
In addition, UB’s Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics will support strategic industry projects that advance materials research and development, and provide experiential learning opportunities for students. In collaboration with the new center, experts pushing the frontiers of science and engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering, the Department of Materials Design and Innovation (MDI), and the Department of Physics will advance data-driven discovery methods and accelerate the development and design of new materials and processes.
“With a blend of expertise spanning physics, chemistry, electrical engineering and MDI departments, our team will embark on novel paradigms for energy efficient microelectronics, exploring unconventional materials and devices not traditionally employed in electronics,” said Hao Zeng, professor of physics and co-director of the center.
The center’s two other co-directors are Ian Sellers and Uttam Singisetti, both professors of electrical engineering.
“The Center for Advanced Semiconductor Technologies will place the University at Buffalo and Western New York at the forefront of microelectronics research in the world. The partnerships forged through this effort will lead to unique learning opportunities for our students, a stronger regional economy, and new technologies that benefit us all,” said Kemper Lewis, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The center’s research aligns with New York State’s clean energy goals, including the advancement of energy-efficient microelectronics, such as novel chips that utilize magnetic materials to power high-computing systems at a lower cost; widegap-semiconductor-based high-power devices for electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable integrated grids (devices for EVs and their charging stations); and high-efficiency photovoltaics and hot-carrier solar cells — all advanced semiconductor solutions developed to support shifts to renewable energy.
“Our new center will allow our partners to leverage the complementary strengths of our technology ecosystems, paving the way for secure, advanced technology supply chains for semiconductor manufacturing partners,” said Venu Govindaraju, UB vice president for research and economic development.
Establishing this center sets a course for UB to join critical efforts in developing the semiconductor industry in New York State, such as the Northeast Defense Technology Hub. This regional coalition of private and public sector experts in microelectronics will help supercharge New York’s booming chips industry to spur innovation, attract new companies, and strengthen the workforce, which is vital to the nation’s national security.