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Argonne Signs Pledge to Increase Energy Efficiency of Microelectronics

Argonne along with many companies and research organizations signs pledge to substantially increase energy efficiency of microelectronics over next two decades.

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.


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