CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers in the Oregon State University College of Engineering are spearheading a $2 million federal effort to explore new ways of developing electrical components that are better able to withstand extreme operating conditions, especially high temperatures.
The team will try to find novel, artificial-intelligence-based methods for designing and building long-lasting, high-efficiency electrical components for harsh-environment applications such as high-power radar and the aerospace, automotive and wireless communications industries.
“The semiconductor industry is reaching the limit of what is possible in terms of making devices smaller,” said Oregon State’s Tom Weller. “In order to remain on its remarkable, decades-long path of increasing performance and lowering cost, the industry is now shifting to new ways of packaging semiconductor devices. These packaging approaches introduce heat management challenges, some of which our research will attempt to address.”
Tom Weller, the Gaulke Chair in electrical engineering, will lead a collaboration that includes Oregon State’s Joshua Gess, Rob Stone, Chris Hoyle and Rachael Cate as well as researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of South Florida.
The project, part of the National Science Foundation Future of Semiconductors (FuSe) program, will be undertaken with simultaneous consideration of electrical, mechanical and thermal design, Weller said. Gess, Stone and Hoyle are mechanical engineering faculty, and Stone is also the head of OSU’s innovation-focused Impact Studio.
“The key to solving the difficult challenge of heat management includes a co-design methodology where all parts of the systems are optimized together instead of separately, using machine learning methods to accelerate the process,” Weller said. “The underlying technical advance is the introduction of fluid-based heat management structures that are directly integrated with the electrical devices. The research could lead to faster and cheaper electronics for computing and communicating in the future.”
The researchers will also set up an educational outreach program for students in grades 7-12 that will double as service-based learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students involved in the project.
“These service-based learning activities are aligned with a national model for advanced manufacturing education, with a special focus on including participants from historically marginalized groups,” Weller said.