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SEMICONDUCTORS

Advancing talent and research for the chip industry

Meeting the nation's semiconductor talent shortage.

As companies around the world launch plans to onshore semiconductor chip production, a new challenge is quickly being revealed—a national shortage of labor skilled in semiconductor technology.

Virginia Tech is stepping up to fill the talent and research pipeline by preparing students through a pioneering new Chips-Scale Integration program, infusing industry-inspired learning in the classroom and propelling use-inspired research.  

PERSPECTIVES

“The Chips Act has sparked excitement about the US and its’ attractiveness as the next major investment region for the global semiconductor industry. Throughout the entire industry ecosystem, firms are making strategic decisions about where and how to expand their operations. While the nation is watching where the large fabs will land, we should remember that there are many other critical players in the industry value chain that will also in parallel be evaluating where to locate their own operations. In my 30 years in the industry, I can attest to the critical role access to talent and research partners will play in that decision making process. With a legacy of excellence and a nationally-ranked ECE program, Virginia Tech should be a go-to partner for companies moving forward."

Kevin Crofton '85, Chairman of the SEMI International Board of Directors

Pioneering engineering education through NSF-backed curriculum

Through a NSF grant awarded in 2016, Virginia Tech has taken bold action to redesign elements of electrical and computer engineering program. The NSF-supported curriculum aims to transform the traditional engineering education curriculum model and emphasizes design and innovation approaches. The Chip-Scale Integration program is one of 14 specialized majors in electrical engineering and computer engineering that resulted from the National Science Foundation’s ambitious Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) grant. The major was built for students who are seeking to harness innovative advances in integrated digital and analog electronics to add greater functionality, improve performance, minimize power consumption and expand applications.

 IMPACT  

Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Playbook

Virginia Tech’s top-ranked computer engineering program is known for providing hands-on opportunities for students via internships, a legacy of world-class research and its team-based, multidisciplinary approach. ECE stands as the largest program in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering.

#4

in the U.S. for producing most undergrads in computer engineering

top-10

research enterprise with over $60M/year in expenditures

120+

ECE interdisciplinary faculty and researchers

30

IEEE fellows, 22 NSF Career Awardees, 4 DOD YIP Awardees - ECE faculty

top-10

institution for undergrad degrees awarded to women in engineering

~ 450

ECE degrees conferred annually

 FOCUS 

Chips-Integration Degree:  our strengths match the rapidly evolving needs of the semiconductor community.

The Chips-Scale Integration major caters to students who are seeking to harness advances in integrated digital and analog electronics to add greater functionality, improve performance, minimize power consumption, and expand applications. Students in this transformative program are collaborating across disciplines while learning from faculty and industry experts in manufacturing, chip design, packaging and power, and graduate ready to apply domain expertise in the highly complex field of systems design and integration and everything in between.

To the semiconductor industry, we offer a compelling value proposition that includes:

  • a pioneering new Chips major for top talent,
  • expanding professional masters degrees,
  • robust doctoral programs to advance the bleeding edge of research and innovation, and
  • a legacy of research with industry
  • Addition of a senior design course – the Major Design Experience (MDE) – gives seniors a taste of the engineering profession. Students work together in teams and tackle real-world problems for customers like Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments, BAE Systems, GM, and many others.

RESEARCH

Fusing research and education for futures of tomorrow.

From integrated circuits, to packaging and design, selected research and faculty highlight the depth and breadth of ECE.

Faculty: Christina DiMarino (ECE), GQ Lu (ECE/MSE), Khai Ngo (ECE)

Expertise: Packaging for revolutionary advances in power electronics used in electric vehicles, aerospace, the electric grid, and defense
systems.

Features: New packaging technologies, materials, and integration strategies are essential to extracting the benefits of advanced
semiconductor devices (e.g., WBG)

Key Challenges:

  • Electromagnetic compatibility for highspeed
    devices and high-density-integration
  • Harsh environment operation and reliability
    for defense and transportation systems
  • Material-device-packaging-circuit co-design

 

Integrated Power Electronics Modules (IPEM)
Integrated Power Electronics Modules (IPEM)
Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
10 kV power module fabricated in the Center for Power Electronics Packaging Lab at Virginia Tech.

Faculty: Masoud Agah and Leyla Nazhandal (ECE)

Expertise: Field Portable and Wearable MEMS-enabled systems.

Applications:

  • Environmental monitoring
  • Disease diagnostics
  • Monitoring substance adulteration
  • Homeland security
  • Quality Control

Key Challenges:

  • Uniform functionalization of sensors
  • Compact integration of fluidic and electronic components
  • Minimal chip-to-chip variation
 
 

 

Micro Gas Chromatography
Micro Gas Chromatography

Faculty: Jeff Walling (ECE)

Expertise: Wideband, adaptive, linear and energy-efficient integrated circuits from mm-Wave to THz

Key Opportunities:

  • Machine Learning/AI-based RFIC/mm-wave IC optimization
  • Increase information rate, spectral- and energy-efficiency

Key Challenges:

  • Low device gain, high passive losses
  • High-speed, high bandwidth mixed-signal interfaces
  • Coordination across large-scale arrays

 

Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021. Machine learning adaptation will provide opportunities to scale frequency, bandwidth and linearity.

Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021. Machine learning adaptation will provide opportunities to scale frequency, bandwidth and linearity.
Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.

Faculty: Paul Ampadu (ECE) and Leyla Nazhandali (ECE)

Expertise: Lightweight and low-power ICs. Secure and Resilient Network-on-Chip and System-on-Chip. Fault-attack resistant microprocessors.

Key Challenges:

  • Energy-efficient yet function-complete Hardware
  • Fast response times under HW complexity
  • Hardware/Software Co-design

Secure-Resilient AI Chips: Key Challenges

  • Identifying common AI primitives
  • Narrowing prevalent AI applications
  • Algorithms simplification for HW designs
  • Effecting jointly secure-resilient AI chips

Other

  • Internet-of-Things (IoT) chip
  • 5G chip with J. Walling of ECE
  • Hardware for Energy Systems security

 

Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
Fabricated test chip demonstrating core error-resilient, secure lightweight NoC core
Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
Secure-resilient NoC architecture exploiting lightweight bitslice/ECC design

Faculty: Yang (Cindy) Yi (ECE)

Expertise: Design and optimization of AI chips for real-time data analysis, time-series predictions, and dynamic control

Features:

  • Scalable, robust, and energy-efficient 3D neuromorphic computing

Key Challenges:

  • Energy efficient spiking neural network
  • Robustness and scalability
  • System prototype and emerging applications in cognitive computing and quantum computing

 

Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
Die micrograph of fabricated prototype of the hybrid neural network chip
Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
Hardware platform with the artificial intelligence chip and memristive synapses.

Faculty: Dong Ha (ECE)

Expertise: Integrated circuits capable of operating at high temperatures.

Applications:

  • Extreme environment sensing
  • Oil and gas exploration
  • Car/jet engine monitoring
  • Spacecraft
  • Elimination of heat sinks+ Oil and gas exploration
  • Car/jet engine monitoring
  • Spacecraft
  • Elimination of heat sinks

Key Challenges:

  • Fabrication of devices (such as SOI) to operate temperatures above 600 °C.
  • Develop packages to operate at high temperatures.
  • High temperature circuit design

 

Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
Application of high temperature circuits
Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
High temperature RF circuits developed by Prof. Ha’s team operate up to 230 °C.

Faculty: Yuhao Zhang and Mantu Hudait (ECE)

Expertise: Power devices and ICs for revolutionary advances in power electronics used in electric vehicles, data centers, the electric grid, and
defense systems.

Features: New semiconductors, e.g., integrated group III-V and group IV, wide-bandgap and ultrawide bandgap materials, drive the power device
and IC innovations.

Key Challenges:

  • Emerging power device & IC design, fabrication and characterization, with new semiconductors such as gallium oxide
  • Power circuit design, development and manufacturing
  • Introducing new semiconductors into silicon processing
  • Machine-learning assisted material-device packaging-circuit co-design and semiconductor manufacturing.
Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
5-kV Gallium Nitride power rectifier fabricated in the Virginia Tech cleanroom (Highlighted by Nature electronics in 12/2020)
Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
Graphic of AI-guided semiconductor manufacturing

Faculty: Linbo Shao (ECE)

Expertise: Integrated electro-optic and acousto-optic circuits on thin-film lithium niobate, quantum interconnects

Features: New semiconductors, e.g., integrated group III-V and group IV, wide-bandgap and ultrawide bandgap materials, drive the power device
and IC innovations.

Key Opportunities:

  • High performance electro-optic devices e.g. modulator f > 100GHz, Vπ < 1V.
  • Integrated hybrid circuits combining microwave, acoustic, and optical devices.
  • Quantum information processing on silicon substrate

Key Challenges:

  • Design, simulation, and testing of emerging microwave photonic devices
  • Nanofabrication integration –multiple types of devices; lasers and photodetectors on chip
  • Optical and microwave co-packaging
Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
Integrated acousto-optic devices
Integrated acousto-optic devices
Integrated acousto-optic devices

Signature center within ECE:

Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES)

For the last 40 years, the CPES has partnered with industry and government to radically transform the electronics that are used to power everything from cell phones to electric cars to datacenters.  CPES contributions have resulted in technologies that are incorporated in virtually every device including voltage regulators in microprocessors that are in high-end graphics processors, memory devices, telecommunication networks, and all forms of mobile electronics.

With a degree CPE and a major in Chip-Scale Integration, graduates bring depth and and a holistic view of other technical domains to become “T-shaped” professionals.

Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.
Fully digital mm-Wave transmitter from VLSI 2021.

PARTNER

Meet your objectives while taking advantage of Virginia Tech’s truly one-of-a-kind features, including location, portfolio, infrastructure, mission.

Shape your workforce talent pipeline
Sofia
Drive cutting-edge research collaborations
Sofia
Drive cutting-edge research collaborations
Sofia
Design the modern mobility ecosystem.
Sofia

John Ralston

Associate Director of Business Development, LINK, the Center for Advancing Partnerships

 

Let's connect today.

Every day, our faculty work to meet the pressing needs of the semiconductor industry by developing their future workforce and advancing interdisciplinary research, technology and policy. Together, with our partners, we are changing the world.

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