October 3, 2000
Professor Gary Fedder and ECE graduate students, Hasnain Lakdawala, Hao Luo and Xu Zhu, have come home from TECHON2000 the third place winners out of 12 finalists in the national Copper Design Challenge.
Sponsored by the Semiconductor Research Corporation, Novellus Systems Inc., SpeedFam-IPEC and UMC, the Cu Design Challenge's objective was to create novel circuit designs to accelerate the adoption of new semiconductor copper technology by engaging the creative interest of university faculty and students.
Contestants were expected to design a circuit or circuit subcomponent (clock network, analog building block, etc.) that used the enhanced properties of copper interconnects to achieve significant functionality or performance gains over comparable circuits using traditional aluminum interconnect structures.
Fedder's group was among the top five winners of Phase I, which began in August 1999 with 44 student groups. Designs were crafted using available technology files for the 0.18 micron process from UMC, a leading semiconductor foundry.
Fifteen university teams were chosen to have their Phase I designs fabricated at UMC for the final judging.
The Carnegie Mellon team garnered a $15,000 prize for their third-place win at TECHON in addition to a $20,000 prize for their position in Phase I.
The team's entry, CMOS Micromachined RF Components, uses a maskless post-CMOS fabrication process developed to integrate micro-mechanical structures along with CMOS circuits. This approach leverages on the advances in CMOS fabrication technology to improve MEMS performance. Sensors can be integrated with advanced analog and digital circuits to provide a low-cost, simple solution. Combining the advantages of Cu interconnect technology with the CMOS micromaching process, it is possible to design high-performance RF passive components. A combination of high-speed transistors and low interconnect resistance in the UMC process with suspended low substrate loss inductors would enable design of high performance RF circuits.