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Darpa invests $194m in low-power microelectronics

18 Jan 2013

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) have announced plans to invest $194m into microelectronics research.

Darpa and SRC will be investing the money into a variety of university research programmes over the next five to six years. The Starnet research initiative will look into ways to create smaller, more energy efficient, and cost effective microelectronics - electronic circuits built at the nano-scale.

"Starnet is a collaborative network of stellar university research centres whose goal is to enable the continued pace of growth of the microelectronics industry, unconstrained by the daunting list of fundamental physical limits that threaten," said SRC programme executive director Gilroy Vandentop in a statement.

Funding from the programme will be invested in: the University of California Berkley; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Notre Dame University; the University of California Los Angeles; the University of Minnesota.

The University of Michigan will be responsible for the projects six main research centres.

The universities with research centres will also work with professors from 32 other universities for their explorations into microelectronics.

All the programmes involved will study ways to improve the functionality of microelectronics. The final goal of the research is to bring useful and cost effective microelectronics into the future.

Research of note includes the studies which are expected to begin at Notre Dame. The University's research centre will be called the Center for Low Energy Systems Technology. Its mission will be to find ways to lower the energy needs of electronic components.

"One of the greatest challenges facing our technological world today is the amount of energy consumed by electronics of all types, and the new Low Energy Systems Technology Center led by [Alan Seabaugh] will lead to new devices, circuits and architectures that consume considerably less energy," said the dean of Notre Dame's College of Engineering Peter Kilpatrick McCloskey.

"Alan and his team are making an enormous contribution to the world of the 21st century."

Investor, the SRC, has a lot to gain from the research. The group is supported by such companies as IBM, Intel, Micron, Applied Micro and Texas Instruments.

For Darpa the investments continue its track record of investing in forward-thinking research. In 2009, the government agency invested in research which aimed to create computer networks that could run without human interaction.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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