Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Electronic Materials Group Urges Greater Industry/Government Cooperation On R&D; Efforts

In an effort to improve the competitiveness of the U.S. electronics industry, materials and electronics experts from industry, government and universities met at a recent workshop to identify dominant issues facing industry and critical to its advancement in the international marketplace. These experts called for greater cooperation between industry and government in electronic materials research and development.

The workshop was held by the Electronic Materials Working Group, an organization of representatives from government agencies supporting various electronics programs. Recommendations and other findings by the experts are in a new report, Beyond the Technology Roadmaps: An Assessment of Electronics Materials Research and Development, which is available from the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology. The report contains the following recommendations:

  • "To support the continuing push towards increased material complexity and reduced device feature size, the U.S. government should work to create an environment that encourages electronic companies to increase their participation in research and development," and
  • "Long term goals should be focused on structuring the traditional industry, university and federal lab materials research community to assure effective coordination of research to meet the future needs of the electronics industry."

In addition to recommendations, the report provides an assessment of electronic materials R&D; in the context of U.S. national competitiveness, notes Lyle H. Schwartz, director of the NIST Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory and chairman of the President's National Science Council's Materials Technology Subcommittee, known as MatTec. The EMWG supports the activities of the subcommittee.

To meet the recommended goals, the electronic materials experts urged that a dialogue begin on how research needs identified through "road mapping" can provide guidance for future government research investments while ensuring that breakthrough ideas are recognized and provided with adequate support. Road mapping is a process used extensively in the electronics industry to identify needs and gaps in technology for future generations.

The report focuses on materials issues for five major electronic technologies identified in the National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative, a public-private sector partnership that focuses on leveraging resources in electronics manufacturing for sustained national security and economic growth. The five technologies are: microelectronics (silicon technology and advanced packaging); photonics (flat-panel displays and optical communications); radio frequency and microwave electronics (mobile communications); mass storage (data storage and memory); and module interconnections (printed circuit boards and assembly). In addition, fundamental issues in materials characterization and research are discussed.

The following primary findings also are included in the report:

  • There is a continuing research challenge across the microelectronics industry to maintain the trend toward increased materials complexity and reduced device feature size. Simultaneously, improving the quality of materials, and increasing the dimensions of the substrates on which these devices are fabricated or mounted, are critical to all applications;
  • The microelectronics research community in the United States has undergone profound changes in the last five to 10 years as major industrial laboratories have reduced their support for advanced research and limited their efforts to solving more near-term problems. This has resulted in an increasing reliance on universities and federal laboratories for materials R&D; and
  • The guidance that close coupling between researchers and manufacturers provided in the past may in the future be provided largely by industry-wide technology road mapping led by key industrial associations.

The EMWG membership consists of representatives from NIST, the Department of Defense's Naval Research Laboratory and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Copies of the report, Beyond the Technology Roadmaps: An Assessment of Electronic Materials Research and Development (NISTIR 5777), are available from Michael A. Schen, B320 Polymer Building, NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, (301) 975-6741, fax: (301) 869-3229, e-mail: michael.schen [at] (michael[dot]schen[at]nist[dot]gov).

As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.

Released June 24, 1996, Updated November 27, 2017