Newswise — WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $160 million to advance President Biden’s vision to secure the future of American leadership in semiconductor innovation by implementing a key provision in the historic CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (42 U.S.C. §19331), Microelectronics Research for Energy Innovation. This funding will support the formation of Microelectronics Science Research Centers (MSRCs) focused on energy efficiency and extreme environments.

For decades, advances in microelectronics–the computer chips, sensors, and networks that make high speed communication possible and power everything from smart phones to supercomputers–have been driven by a steady drumbeat of new manufacturing technologies combined with new computing architectures. DOE has a long history of contributing to fundamental innovations in microelectronics technologies that continues today, enabled by a highly–skilled, scientific and engineering workforce and world-leading experimental capabilities. The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 recognized this leadership and authorized the DOE to establish the MSRCs to expand and focus these efforts to meet the nation’s future needs.

Speaking at a special event alongside the Special Competitive Studies Project AI Expo ’24, Under Secretary for Science and Innovation Geraldine Richmond noted, “One major challenge the explosive growth of artificial intelligence presents is its rapidly growing energy use and the need for major improvements in the energy efficiency of computing. This funding will ensure our labs are all in on the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole of government effort to drive the future of innovation in chips and deliver the highly efficient computing capabilities we need to power frontier AI for many years to come.”

Microelectronics combines many areas of science in complex ways, and a fundamental rethinking is needed to enable continued advances in the field. In addition, the competitiveness of future microelectronics technologies will depend on their ability not only to provide advanced functionality, but also to operate efficiently. Innovations in energy efficiency will be crucial to meet future needs and to meet the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of decarbonization by 2050. For DOE’s science and technology mission, it is also true that advances are needed not only for microelectronics generally, but also specifically for microelectronics designed to operate in extreme environments, including high-radiation, cryogenic, and high magnetic field environments.

This funding opportunity is requesting proposals for fundamental scientific research in the following four research areas:

  1. New or improved materials, surface processing and control, chemistry, synthesis, and fabrication
  2. Advanced computing paradigms and architectures
  3. Integrated sensing, edge computing, and communication
  4. Processing in extreme environments, radiation, radiation transport, and materials interaction

Applications are open to DOE national laboratories. Other institutions can be proposed as subcontractors on proposals led by DOE national laboratories. Total planned funding is up to $160 million over four years, with $40 million in Fiscal Year 2024 dollars and outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.

The Laboratory Announcement, sponsored by the DOE’s Office of Science, can be found on the Funding Opportunities webpage