The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently initiated funding of about $54 million for 10 new projects headed by DOE’s National Laboratories to enhance energy efficiency in the design and production of microelectronics.
Microelectronics are crucial to almost all modern technology, such as automobiles, smartphones, power plant and electricity grids and medical equipment. Sophisticated microelectronics are promising when it comes to driving novel solutions to challenges in clean energy, national security and climate.
Thanks to microelectronics, technologies that used to swallow entire buildings now fit in the palms of our hands—and now they are supporting climate solutions in electricity, transportation, and renewable energy.
Jennifer M. Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Energy
“DOE’s world-class scientists are stepping up to reduce the carbon footprint of micro technologies used by billions of people around the world to secure our clean energy future, increase American competitiveness, and lead on climate action and innovation,” added Granholm.
Thanks to the miniaturization of microelectronic devices, there has been a digital revolution in recent decades, leading to smaller and more powerful devices, such as computers and phones. This has enhanced the convenience and sophisticated scientific advancement and innovation. The continual shrinking generally referred to as Moore’s Law has been facing technological and economic obstacles of late.
Although the size of devices has shrunk, the energy needed for their development has not decreased at the same pace. Currently, considerable R&D investments are needed to increase energy efficiency and develop more sustainable technology systems that can carry the field into the future.
The target of the recently proposed projects, headed by various research teams at DOE National Labs and experts in academia and industry, will be to enhance energy efficiency and functionality while stimulating US-based innovation as the basis for domestic technology development and manufacturing in the future.
The proposed projects are “co-design” microelectronics projects that involve multi-disciplinary collaboration considering the interdependencies among physics, materials, software and architectures.
The projects will explore the following:
- Ultra-low-power electronics
- Low-temperature, nanoscale and quantum sensors
- New computing architectures based on human brain design
The projects were selected based on peer review under the DOE National Laboratory Announcement “Microelectronics Co-Design Research.” The total funding is worth $54 million for projects that can last up to three years, with $18 million in the Fiscal Year 2021 dollars and out-year funding contingent on congressional appropriations.