Fred Higgs

Professor – ECE MechE Affiliated Faculty – DSSC
Department Electrical and Computer Engineering
Office 306 Scaife Hall
Telephone (412)-268-2486
Fax (412)-268-3348
Email
Website http://www.cmu.edu/me/people/c-fred-higgs-iii.html

Research Interests

Professor Higgs conducts particulate flow modeling and experimental research that utilizes the basic principles of tribology, fluid and rheological mechanics. His Particulate Flow & Tribology Laboratory studies three different flows found in sliding contact interfaces:

  • Slurry flows
  • Powder flows
  • Granular flows

These three dynamic flows involve nanometer, micrometer, and millimeter size particles flowing in a fluid medium. In the field known as Tribology -- the study of friction, lubrication, and wear -- these flows have each been studied for their ability to act as lubricants between mating surfaces, or as "reverse-lubricants", as is the case with slurries in integrated circuit (IC) manufacturing.

One of the projects Professor Higgs is working on uses slurry flows with nanometer size particles to manufacture magnetic hard disk surfaces to near atomically-smooth levels for the purpose of developing extremely high capacity information storage systems. To achieve this, his team employs chemical mechanical polishing (CMP), a semiconductor manufacturing process used to engineer the surface to nanoscale roughness. Pursuant to the international semiconductor roadmap, his group is also working to achieve uniform material removal of copper, barrier, and dielectric layers on semiconductor wafers during CMP. In studying powder flows, the group is researching and developing high-speed, oil-free, rotating mechanical systems that will use powder as lubricants. In granular flows, nearly-elastic particles are set in colliding motion to accommodate the relative velocity between two sliding surfaces. Developing and modeling granular lubrication flow experiments would significantly advance particle flow research being conducted in the biomedical, agricultural, and geological science communities. Overall, the Particulate Flow & Tribology Laboratory will research and develop innovative mechanical and electrical technologies that are processed or protected by particulate flows.

Recently, he became a professor in the Sloan Ph.D. Program, which seeks to increase the number of minorities that earn doctorates in engineering and science. He also joined the Institute for Complex Engineering Systems at Carnegie Mellon.

In the News

  • Mai and Higgs Win NSF CAREER Award
  •      Fred Higgs

    Carnegie Mellon, 2005

    Research Area

    Circuits/CAD/VLSI

    Keywords

    Tribology, nanomanufacturing, multi-scale particle flows

    Education

    PhD, 2001
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

    MS, 1997
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

    BS, 1995
    Tennessee State University