The critical infrastructure in the U.S. could not function without microelectronics. This includes finance, transportation, the electric grid, defense, healthcare and more. Most Americans depend on microelectronics every day, in particular, the microchips in computers, cars and smart phones.
Yet there is a looming problem. Microelectronic use is growing so rapidly — doubling every three years — that it is projected to consume nearly 25% of planetary energy use within the decade. Future energy use by microelectronics must be reduced substantially.
“Argonne enthusiastically supports the semiconductor industry EES2 roadmap.” Paul Kearns, laboratory director, Argonne National Laboratory
To address this need, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the microelectronics’ Energy Efficiency Scaling for 2 Decades (EES2) initiative. As part of the initiative, 21 companies and organizations have pledged to increase the energy efficiency of microelectronics by a thousandfold over the next two decades. Last week, nine more companies pledged to join the initiative at the first working group meeting.
Their goal is to create a technology leadership path for the U.S. that will provide economic and environmental benefits as well as avoiding unsustainable life-cycle energy use. Those benefits include increasing the competitiveness of U.S. semiconductor manufacturers, who produce microelectronics, and reducing the environmental impact of microelectronics use.
Inaugural signing partners include DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and five other national laboratories. Companies signing include Intel, Microsoft, Micron, Synopsys and many others.
As part of the pledge, this private-public alliance will be developing a roadmap for doubling the energy efficiency of microelectronics every two years for 10 generations.
“Argonne enthusiastically supports the semiconductor industry EES2 roadmap,” said Argonne Laboratory Director Paul Kearns. “To help meet its goals, we will apply our strong foundational science expertise, dynamic academic and industry partnerships and state-of-the-art user facilities and tools. With these contributions, we can drive the innovations that will power the next generation of energy-efficient microelectronics.”
Microelectronics research at Argonne is focusing on two elements. First is to discover innovative structures and materials to enable energy-efficient computing while reducing use of materials that could cause serious supply chain disruptions. Second is to create new approaches to reducing the impact of microelectronics manufacturing on the environment.
Critical to this research is use of DOE Office of Science user facilities for materials characterization, fabrication and modeling at Argonne: the Advanced Photon Source, Center for Nanoscale Materials and Argonne Leadership Computing Facility. Also important is use of Argonne’s Materials Engineering Research Facility for scaling up new technology. Research will also call upon Argonne resources for artificial intelligence and autonomous discovery. The latter involves automating both the laboratory and tasks traditionally performed by the scientist to accelerate the pace of discovery.
“We will also be leveraging our history of strong interactions with our Midwest university partners, who provide a talented workforce to the microelectronics industry,” said Amanda Petford-Long, director of Argonne’s Materials Science division and lead for Argonne’s Microelectronics Initiative. “And we will be working with industry to ensure that our discovery science can be developed and deployed in a timely manner.”
Support for the EES2 initiative is provided by the DOE Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office.
About Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials
The Center for Nanoscale Materials is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale supported by the DOE Office of Science. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit https://science.osti.gov/User-Facilities/User-Facilities-at-a-Glance.
The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility provides supercomputing capabilities to the scientific and engineering community to advance fundamental discovery and understanding in a broad range of disciplines. Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, the ALCF is one of two DOE Leadership Computing Facilities in the nation dedicated to open science.
About the Advanced Photon Source
The U. S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory is one of the world’s most productive X-ray light source facilities. The APS provides high-brightness X-ray beams to a diverse community of researchers in materials science, chemistry, condensed matter physics, the life and environmental sciences, and applied research. These X-rays are ideally suited for explorations of materials and biological structures; elemental distribution; chemical, magnetic, electronic states; and a wide range of technologically important engineering systems from batteries to fuel injector sprays, all of which are the foundations of our nation’s economic, technological, and physical well-being. Each year, more than 5,000 researchers use the APS to produce over 2,000 publications detailing impactful discoveries, and solve more vital biological protein structures than users of any other X-ray light source research facility. APS scientists and engineers innovate technology that is at the heart of advancing accelerator and light-source operations. This includes the insertion devices that produce extreme-brightness X-rays prized by researchers, lenses that focus the X-rays down to a few nanometers, instrumentation that maximizes the way the X-rays interact with samples being studied, and software that gathers and manages the massive quantity of data resulting from discovery research at the APS.
This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. DOE Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.