U.S. and Chinese Joint Center for ESD Protection Design

May 17, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), China's largest and most advanced semiconductor foundry and one of the world's largest foundries, University of California, Riverside (UCR), and Shanghai Research Institute of Microelectronics, Peking University (SHRIME/PKU), jointly announced the opening of the SMIC-UCR-SHRIME/PKU Joint Center For ESD Protection Design (ESD Center).

Prof. Yangyuan Wang, an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of SMIC, and Dr. Tzu-Yin Chiu, the SMIC CEO, jointly inaugurated the ESD Center at its opening ceremony. Dr. Tianshen Tang, Senior VP of SMIC, Prof. Albert Wang, Director of the Integrated Circuit and System Laboratory at UCR, Prof. Yuhua Cheng, Dean of SHRIME/PKU and other guests from the industry participated in the opening ceremony.

Utilizing the complementary and collective strengths of SMIC, UCR and SHRIME/PKU, the ESD Center aims to develop advanced ESD protection design methodologies, and provide reliable and cost-effective ESD protection solutions for customers through industrial-academic and international collaboration. The ESD Center consists of three sites, located at SMIC, UCR and SHRIME/PKU, which will be jointly managed by three Co-Directors: Dr. Tianshen Tang, Prof. Albert Wang and Prof. Yuhua Cheng, respectively.

The ESD Center has an Advisory Board formed by Dr. Tzu-Yin Chiu, Prof. Michael Pazzani (Vice Chancellor of Research and Economic Development of UCR) and Prof. Yangyuan Wang. In addition to the existing collaboration, SMIC will invest at least US$1.5M annually in the next three years including IC fabrication, equipment, engineering resource and funding to support the research activities at the ESD Center, particularly the R&D efforts for on-chip ESD protection for advanced FinFET technologies and RF ICs for wireless communications.

"The semiconductor industry is facing mounting technical challenges, which call for international collaboration to ensure technology advances. Such industrial-academic collaboration will serve to bridge the gap in R&D activities between the academia and the industry and speed-up technology transfers", stated Prof. Yangyuan Wang, who also noted that he highly values the model of international collaboration, and hopes to take advantage of complementary expertise to lead ESD protection R&D activities and accelerate commercialization of the research outcomes.

Dr. Tzu-Yin Chiu also highly praised the collaboration efforts. Dr. Chiu said that "one of our missions is to drive technology advancement and provide excellent services to our customers. ESD protection has become so complicated that we must collaborate with the academia at international scale to address the technical challenges. Prof. Albert Wang and Prof. Yuhua Cheng are IEEE Fellows, and Dr. Tang is an industry veteran. I am confident that they will lead the Center to success."

Dr. Tianshen Tang, Prof. Albert Wang and Prof. Yuhua Cheng echoed on the urgent need for comprehensive collaboration in ESD protection designs. Dr. Tang said, "ESD is one of the key factors in the IC design ecosystem. We must continuously invest heavily to provide the better ESD solutions to our customers." With a brief review on global status of ESD protection research activities, Prof. Wang stated that "ESD protection design involves complex multiple coupling effects at process, device, circuit, layout and system levels, which requires comprehensive co-design efforts."

Prof. Yuhua Cheng summarized the prior collaboration achievements and outlined the further plan for the ESD Center. He concluded that "Our previous joint work has resulted in encouraging outcomes in ESD protection designs at 28nm technology. We will continue to leverage complementary expertise to develop optimized solutions of ESD protections for future process technologies."