SRC and NSF partner to develop compact models for emerging nanotech

Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) recently joined the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a partner in an ongoing NSF project to further develop compact models of emerging nanoelectronic devices such as might be used in next-generation consumer electronics.

The project focuses on nano-engineered electronic device simulation (NEEDS). NEEDS is a node of a larger National Nanotechnology Initiative project called the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN). NCN offers researchers tools to explore nanoscale phenomena through theory, modeling and simulation, while also developing enhancements to science and engineering education.

The existing $3.5 million award from NSF, now bolstered by joint support from NSF and SRC of $2.5 million, supports a five-year program that is the largest of its kind dedicated to realizing the promise of nanoscience in innovative circuits and systems applications

By enabling the simulation of circuits and systems, compact models connect nanomaterials and devices to potential circuit applications that are simulated with SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis). NEEDS is charged with creating a complete compact model development environment (NEEDS-SPICE) that supports the creation of high-quality models and provides industrial and academic designers with robust models that run in both commercial and open source SPICE-compatible simulation platforms.

NEEDS will support this platform with a set of best practices and processes and a suite of research and educational resources. During the course of this work, NEEDS will produce an open source platform, open source compact models and open content educational resources, which will be available on

“Moving from devices to systems is the next phase of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and compact models are the critical link between the two,” said Lynn Preston, NCN program team leader at NSF. “Supported by NSF since its inception in 2002, the nanoHUB has become the flagship science and engineering gateway for nanotechnology. It provides the ideal platform for disseminating the work of the NEEDS Node and for engaging a global community in developing compact models for nanodevices and systems.”

“Predictive compact models are vital for circuit designers to explore their novel ideas to take full advantage of these emerging nano-enabled devices and systems, and an organized effort like the NEEDS initiative is both timely and essential,” said Kwok Ng, Senior Director of Device Sciences at SRC.

Led by Purdue University Engineering Professor Mark Lundstrom, this NSF/SRC partnership expands the NSF base support to the core NEEDS team at Purdue, MIT and the University of California, Berkeley and adds faculty from Stanford University to the team. Additionally, the NEEDS team will interact with SRC Global Research Collaboration industry representatives in the device, circuits/systems and CAD areas.

The NEEDS Node was initiated in September 2012 and the NSF/SRC partnership in support of the expanded Node officially begins work today. NEEDS anticipates delivering initial results in December.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, its budget was $7.0 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.


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