July 16, 2024
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UCSB receives federal funding to fuel semiconductor development


UC Santa Barbara will soon be playing a key role in helping the United States expand its semiconductor manufacturing and development, making the country far more competitive in the global market.

According to a press release on Oct. 16, UCSB will receive $26.9 million in its first year for a Microelectronics Commons, a coalition of research and industry organizations with the goal of accelerating the development and manufacturing of microelectronics in the United States.

“We at UC Santa Barbara are enthusiastic to be a part of this Hub team and look forward to the start of the program,” UCSB’s Jonathan Klamkin, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the UCSB Nanofabrication Facility, said in a press release.

It will be receiving this money as a member of the California Defense Ready Electronic and Microdevices Superhub, one of eight Microelectronics Commons regional innovation hubs established in early October by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The funding also comes from the CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2022 intending to invest roughly $250 million in semiconductor research and development, building the semiconductor manufacturing sector in the United States, and educating and training the workforce expected to propel the industry forward.

The overall goal is to create a national network and direct pathway to advance the discovery, innovation and fabrication of domestic microelectronic technology, such as circuits and chips.

UCSB is one of eight California DREAMS Hubs that will receive $26.9 million in funding in the first year. Led by the University of Southern California, other campuses that will receive the funding include UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Caltech, Pasadena City College, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University and Morgan State University.

Companies will also receive funding such as Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Raytheon, Teledyne Technologies, HRL Laboratories and PDF Solutions.

“We are extremely proud to join with other leading research universities and industry partners in Southern California as part of this united effort,” Umesh Mishra, dean of the UCSB College of Engineering, said in a press release. 

“Our involvement is a testament to the university’s strong reputation in the semiconductor industry, which was built upon decades of innovation and cutting-edge microelectronics developed on our campus. We look forward to contributing our expertise to the hub.”

In addition to serving as the dean of engineering at UCSB, Mishra is also a co-founder and current chief technology officer at Goleta-based Transphorm, a UCSB spinout and global semiconductor company.

Companies like Transphorm and even Goleta-based Atomica have told the Business Times how unlocking funding from the CHIPS and Science Act could be huge for the local area, both fiscally and in terms of future jobs coming to the area.

According to the press release, regional innovation hubs were also established at Stanford University, and in the states of New York, Massachusetts, Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana. 

In all, over 360 organizations from over 30 states will be participating in the Microelectronics Commons, with a total of $238 million being doled out — the largest award to date under President Biden’s CHIPS and Science Act.

Six technology areas critical to the DoD mission were selected as focus areas for the commons: secure edge/Internet of Things (IoT) computing, 5G/6G, artificial intelligence hardware, quantum technology, electromagnetic warfare, and commercial leap-ahead technologies. 

“The Microelectronics Commons is focused on bridging and accelerating the lab-to-fab transition, that infamous valley of death between R&D and production,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said in a press release. 

“President Biden’s CHIPS Act will supercharge America’s ability to prototype, manufacture and produce microelectronics at scale. CHIPS and Science made clear to America — and the world — that the U.S. government is committed to ensuring that our industrial and scientific powerhouses can deliver what we need to secure our future in this era of strategic competition.”

The Pentagon plans to spend about $2 billion over the next five years on this initiative.

email: jmercado@pacbiztimes.com