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NIST Partners with University Effort for Cutting-Edge Semiconductor Technology

GAITHERSBURG, Md.—The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded its first funds for a research consortium focused on the development of new materials to enable novel computing and storage technologies. NEW LIMITS, for NEW materials for LogIc, Memory, and InTerconnectS, seeks to create innovative solutions that will allow U.S. semiconductor producers to remain on the cutting edge.

“Projects such as NEW LIMITS will help the U.S. maintain its technological edge,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The health of the U.S. semiconductor industry is vital not only to our economy, but also to our national security as we face 21st century threats.”

The work will be led by researchers at Purdue University, with teams from the University of Texas at Dallas, Penn State University, the University of Michigan and Stanford University. NEW LIMITS is funded through the Nanoelectronics Computing Research (nCORE) consortium, established in 2017 by NIST and SRCco, a not-for-profit subsidiary of the Semiconductor Research Corporation. NIST awarded SRCco $2.5 million to launch the consortium in support of basic research in future computing and information processing.

The consortium explores new approaches to low-energy devices and technologies that can outperform traditional CMOS (complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductor) technologies. Its members, all of which have U.S. operations, are Analog Devices Inc., ARM Limited, EMD Performance Materials, IBM Corp., Intel Corp., Micron Technology Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., Raytheon Company, Samsung Electronics Company Ltd. and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. nCORE helps guide university research by focusing on the long-term future computing research needs of the semiconductor industry.

Semiconductors are the base material for almost all current computer hardware, allowing construction of complex "chips" with circuit widths down to just a few nanometers. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, the U.S. leads the worldwide semiconductor industry, accounting for $164 billion in sales in 2016—about half of the global market share. Advances in semiconductor technology are critical to U.S. economic prosperity and national security.

The semiconductor industry is facing the fundamental limits of conventional CMOS materials—and the need to create devices that work well in the internet of things (IoT). NEW LIMITS will work to develop ways to create, integrate and evaluate new materials for new technologies and for hybrid designs that are compatible with current technologies. The NEW LIMITS proposal was chosen through a competitive process announced in July 2017 and will focus on five key research avenues identified by the nCORE group.

NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. NIST is a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. To learn more, visit

Released February 16, 2018, Updated July 5, 2019