New materials and technologies are permitting the development of micro- and nano-systems of ultra-high performance electronic devices, as well as systems of photonic, information-storage, and electromechanical devices. Future integration of these technologies, and implementation of their wide-ranging applications, will depend critically on an advanced understanding of the selection, processing, and property-optimization of a wide array of materials and materials combinations. To meet this need, a comprehensive programme of graduate study in the field of advanced materials for micro- and nano-systems has been developed.

Students participate in intensive graduate-level courses in the fundamentals of electronic, photonic, magnetic and mechanical properties of materials, and of the fundamental thermodynamic and kinetic principles that provide the foundations for the development and analysis of new processes for micro- and nano- materials. These courses on the fundamentals of materials science and engineering are followed up with an array of courses covering advanced topics in processing of materials for microelectronic devices and circuits, and processing of materials for microelectromechanical devices and systems, as well as advanced courses on electronic and photonic device physics, on device and system reliability and on computational modeling of materials properties and processes. Courses are taught by teams of Singapore and MIT faculty, through a mixture of distance learning and on-site modes. Tools for remote usage of laboratory equipment are also being developed for both class-based exercises, and for distance collaborative research.

Collaborative research programmes on materials, processes and devices for electronic, electromechanical, photonic, and information storage devices and systems are under development. Current programmes include research on the synthesis of Ge nanocrystals in silicon oxide matrix by cosputtering or by oxidation of silicon germanium films. The system will be used in the fabrication of non-volatile memories with potential improvement in the write and erase times and charge retention properties. Another research topic focuses on heteroepitaxial SiGe films on Si substrates, for fabrication multi-mode interference optical filters. Such devices provide excellent insertion and extinction loss, and are designed for 1.3 and 1.55 mm wavelength operation for use in advanced filtering and routing in internet applications. Strained Si films on Si/Ge-on-Si substrates are also under investigation for use in high-performance heterostructure bi-polar transistors and CMOS devices. Research is also being carried out on advanced metallization technology for 0.18 and 0.1 µm technologies, including Cu-based metallurgies and ultralow-k dielectric materials. This work is complemented by research on the development of new experimental techniques and analysis methodologies for circuit-level assessments of the reliability and metallization schemes involving complex interconnect topologies and new materials. The development of processes for growth of piezoelectric (PZT) films on Si microelectromechanical devices to serve as ‘active’ materials for actuation and other applications is also under investigation. Metallic glass obtained by fast quenching from melt or film deposition show superior qualities in strength, hardness, and magnetic damping capacity and their properties are being studied for applications ranging from use in golf clubs and to high frequency cores in electronics. New projects on micro batteries and metamorphic epitaxy of large mismatched materials system to minimize dislocations for application in optoelectronics are under investigation, and new activities on nano-materials for integrated electronic, photonic and sensing functions on the Si microelectronics platform have been initiated.

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