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A Vision and Strategy for the National Semiconductor Technology Center

This is introductory text from the CHIPS Research and Development Office’s “A Vision and Strategy for the National Semiconductor Technology Center.” Get the full paper and the fact sheet.

The pace of innovation in the semiconductor technology sector over the past seven decades has been extraordinary. The industry has progressed from building a few transistors in silicon to, today, building billions of transistors on a single wafer. Much of this success is due to advances in the manufacture of ever smaller semiconductors following a consistent progression in scaling known as Moore’s Law. Today, the smallest dimensions of leading-edge semiconductor devices have reached the atomic scale and the complexity of the circuit architecture is increasing exponentially with the use of three-dimensional structures, the incorporation of new materials, and improvements in the thousands of process steps needed to make advanced chips. Into the future, as new applications demand higher-performance semiconductors, their design and production will become even more complex. This complexity makes it increasingly difficult and costly to implement innovations because of the dependencies between design and manufacturing, between manufacturing steps, and between front-end and back-end processes. 

Three people in coveralls sit talking together at a metal table in a high-tech lab.
Three researchers at NIST’s NanoFab talk science with a state-of-the-art Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) system in the background.
Credit: B. Hayes/NIST

To accelerate innovation in semiconductor technology, there is a need for a systems-level research and development approach that connects sophisticated tools, resources, and facilities. This provides innovators with the flexibility to explore improvements to complex heterogeneous systems and the confidence that new designs and manufacturing technologies will be successful. More than ever, research and development activities need to be closely aligned with design and manufacturing processes. For example, a research ecosystem built upon a network of physical and virtual manufacturing tools could reduce the time needed to design new products and processes and shorten the experimentation cycle needed to implement innovations.  

Recognizing these needs, Congress appropriated funds for a national semiconductor technology center (NSTC) to support and extend U.S. leadership in semiconductor research, design, engineering, and advanced manufacturing. By integrating efforts across a complex ecosystem, a successful NSTC will advance critical semiconductor research and development; expand access to design and manufacturing resources and allow industry, academia, and government to build on each other’s work; and reduce the time and cost of bringing technologies to market. As an independent public-private consortium, the NSTC will provide a platform where government, national laboratories, industry, customers, suppliers, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, workforce representatives, and investors collaborate.  

The U.S. has a once-in-a-generation opportunity

to create a transformative center that can endure for decades, accelerate the pace of innovation, and ensure those innovations form the foundations for future industries.

The NSTC will provide domestic access to advanced prototyping capabilities for the research and development community to advance new concepts and facilitate both the development and production of American technology on shore, energizing domestic manufacturing. Targeted research programs will deliver potentially disruptive and performance-enhancing capabilities. Faculty, students, and researchers will have access to experiential technical learning including state-of-the-art design environments and infrastructure, process design kits, and circuit design libraries to build the workforce needed to power manufacturing growth in the United States. 

This paper outlines the strategy, capabilities, and resources envisioned for the NSTC by the Department of Commerce.

  • First, it outlines the NSTC’s mission and goals, then identifies how the NSTC relates to other CHIPS-focused programs within the Department and across the federal government.
  • Second, it describes the core programs that the Department believes that the NSTC should build.
  • Third, it provides an overview of the governance structure and financial and operating model, which the Department will continue to develop.  

Get the full text of "A Vision and Strategy for the National Semiconductor Technology Center" and the fact sheet

Created April 24, 2023, Updated May 10, 2023