Santa Clara University

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Center for Nanostructures Announces Project

Students in SCU's Scanning Electron Microscope lab.
With the goal of designing, fabricating, and testing a lightweight, low-resistance (electrical and thermal), longer-lasting chip using new carbon-based interconnect and thermal interface materials, Santa Clara University’s Center for Nanostructures (CNS) initiated its thermal and electrical nanoscale transport (TENT) project in February. Cary Yang, principal investigator, CNS director, and professor of electrical engineering, said the five-year project “is a timely response to the current need of integrated circuit manufacturers for enhanced performance and increased reliability in their most advanced products.” The project is sponsored by the U.S. Army with an initial funding of $1.7 million for the first two years.

In addition to utilizing the CNS laboratory here at SCU, nearly 1,300 square feet of space has been leased for a nanostructure characterization facility at NASA Ames Research Center. Specialized equipment, including a high-resolution field-emission scanning electron microscope (SEM), an electrical measurement system consisting of a wafer probe station and DC and ac parameter analyzers, and an atomic force microscope will be used.  Additional instruments, such as a thermal imaging system, will be designed and constructed in the first year of the project. According to Yang, “The resources provided by TENT allow investigators to build upon existing research efforts in electrical interconnects and thermal interfaces, and advance the knowledge base in the four areas of the project, namely: thermal, structural, and electrical characterizations, as well as electrothermal transport modeling.”

CNS will be working with the University of California Santa Cruz, NASA Ames, Hitachi, and Radiance Technologies as partners and collaborators on this project. Professors Shoba Krishnan (electrical engineering) and Drazen Fabris and Jorge González-Cruz (mechanical engineering) are co-investigators on the project. “The TENT project is an example of working closely with government, industry, and academic partners on cutting-edge technology, and is at the same time a product of such collaborative effort,” Yang said. “Everyone associated with the Center for Nanostructures will benefit from these partnerships, and we all look forward to contributing to this exciting project.”

For more information, visit the CNS Web site.