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The Integrated Circuits Laboratory (ICL) encompasses a broad program of research that extends from basic materials processing—including nano- and bio-technology options—to system-level integration issues. The laboratory consists of 15 faculty members, 8 Research Associates, 100 Ph.D. students and 8 full-time staff members.

The ICL has a long and productive history into the processing of semiconductor materials that includes the investigation of silicon, germanium and now organic and nano-scale semiconductors. Understanding and accurately modeling the physical processes that are used to fabricate high-performance integrated circuits and emerging new technologies is integral to technology development. Specific areas of research include gate dielectrics, alternative gate materials, diffusion, deposition, etching, ion implantation, associated thermal processing and a broad new range of materials issues at the nano-technology scale. Accurate simulations of complex fabrication sequences and prediction of the resulting device structures is one area of ICL expertise, dating to the development of SUPREM (developed in the ICL), probably the best-known example of such modeling and a tool that is used in industrial organizations and universities throughout the world.

Device research in the IC Lab spans the entire spectrum of integrated devices implemented in silicon, germanium, compound semiconductor materials, nano-scale devices as well as organic materials and new opportunities for bio-electronic interfaces. Efforts are underway to scale advanced transistors to nanometer dimensions (to prolong “Moore’s Law”), and to discover the ultimate physical limits of these and a variety of “replacement devices.” Advanced two-dimensional device modeling programs, (i.e. PISCES, the prototype of MEDICI and ATLAS, and more advanced quantum- and atomic-scale simulators), have been developed to accurately predict devices behavior.

The design of integrated circuits comprises a major focus of the laboratory, with a number of research programs devoted to exploring limits of high-performance analog and digital circuits. Research topics include mixed-signal circuits for analog-to-digital conversion and broadband communications, RF circuits for application in wireless communications systems, high-speed digital circuits, algorithms, architectures and circuit design techniques for high-performance digital signal processing systems, and special-purpose high-voltage integrated circuits. Advanced CAD and testing facilities support the design and evaluation of complex device structures and circuits, the MIDAS program for mixed-signal simulations is one key example.  Another area of modeling is for reliability concerns such as electro-static discharge (ESD) and other transistor failure modes such as early-life failure (ELF).

The IC Lab offers unique opportunities to design and implement special purpose devices and integrated circuits that can be incorporated into prototype systems. Such chips are being built for applications in integrated sensors, high energy physics instrumentation and smart power electronics, as well as traditional computer and communication systems. The technologies used to build these chips range from mainstream silicon structures (using a range of foundry technologies and in collaboration with leading IC suppliers) to advanced alternative materials and novel heterogeneous structures.

In the area of micro-machined sensors and actuators, work is underway to develop novel chemical, biological, and mechanical transducers that will not only replace macroscopic counterparts but also create entirely new capabilities for scientific, environmental, industrial, and clinical applications. At the core of this research is a combination of new micromachining technologies together with mixed-signal circuit designs that are optimized specifically for such emerging applications.

Bioengineering and the associated electronics is an emerging area of strength within the ICL. Faculties are working on projects that include: probing the brain, related signal processing, electronics interfaces to living cells and bio-photonics for non-evasive probing. The ICL, housed within Paul G. Allen Building, is located directly across the street from the Clark Building where the Bio-Engineering Department is currently housed. Bio-instrumentation has broad implications for both research in biology and clinical applications in medicine. Paul G. Allen Building which houses ICL is strategically located between the Clark Building, Medical School and the new Engineering Quad, currently under construction, which will house the nano-technology building and a building for the future home for bio-engineering.

Performance of microelectronic systems is increasingly limited by the technologies used to package semiconductor chips. There is a growing program of research within the IC Lab into new methods of system integration. For example, 3D integration of ICs and the coupling of photonic structures with digital and analog ICs are representative of such activities.

The fabrication facilities of the IC Lab are part of the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility (SNF). The SNF is a 10,000 square foot, class 100 laboratory that is housed in the Paul G. Allen Building and serves as a west coast hub facility for the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN). This network, an integrated partnership of university fabrication facilities sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), provides unparalleled opportunities for creative researchers to turn new ideas into experimental reality. CAD and testing facilities are also located in Paul G. Allen Building.


ICL is located inside Paul G. Allen Building


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Last updated August 22, 2007.
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