The Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science (DOE-SC), is seeking information and comments around its considered launch of a multi-program basic research initiative in support of microelectronics and semiconductor sectors. The participating program offices in DOE-SC invite interested parties to provide input on the topical areas, innovation mechanisms, impact, and potential collaborations, including public-private partnerships, that could be implemented under this initiative. DOE-SC is particularly interested in ways in which unique DOE facilities, expertise and capabilities can be leveraged to support US continued global innovation and leadership in this field.
For decades DOE-SC has been at the leading edge of microelectronics and semiconductor-based technology innovations, both as a consumer and as an engine of scientific understanding that has enabled many of the technological breakthroughs adopted by industry. Since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1960, advances in microelectronics have followed Moore's Law and other scaling laws, leading to circuit density and device performance improvements of 109 over this time period. In turn, strong commercial demand fueled the pace of scaling, and assured that the needs of DOE-SC facilities were met.
Today, the end of Moore's Law, along with the emergence of new computing workloads, new materials and devices, and new models of computation, have resulted in an unprecedented need and opportunity to “redesign” the innovation process. As highlighted in the SC-sponsored Basic Research Needs for Microelectronics workshop, to enable continued advances in computing and power technologies, a fundamental rethinking is needed of the science behind the materials and chemistry, physics, synthesis and fabrication technologies, architectures, algorithms, modeling, simulation, and design software tools. Could we replace the historical roadmaps with co-design collaborations among software developers, computer architects, circuit designers, device physicists, materials scientists, and chemists to guide a new R&D strategy? The outcome of such an “end-to-end co-design framework” could fundamentally reshape future high performance computing, sensing, data analytics, artificial intelligence, power conversion and control, and other electronics-intensive applications.
DOE-SC supports robust basic research portfolios and scientific user facilities for chemical, physical, mathematical, computational sciences, and modeling/simulation. DOE-SC is poised at the convergence of these scientific disciplines, in a unique position to play a critical role in the advancement of microelectronic technologies over the coming decades. In addition, the success and impact of DOE-SC facilities (e.g. high-performance computers, x-ray and neutron scattering centers, and high energy physics experiments) will be dependent upon the resultant capabilities in computing, sensing, power, and communications.
DOE-SC is considering the launch of a basic research Microelectronics R&D initiative with emphasis on the following broad areas:
- Materials, chemistry, surface science, and plasma science/technology
- Device physics and circuits
- Component integration, architecture, and algorithms
- Next-generation tools for synthesis, fabrication, and characterization
Investments in these areas will provide foundational support for U.S. leadership in key technology growth areas, including the following:
- Memory and Reconfigurable Systems
- Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
- Edge Computing, Sensors, and the Internet of Things
- Power Electronics, the Electricity Grid, and Cyber Physical Systems
- Energy Efficiency of Computation and Packaging