Starting next month, B Tech (ECE) students from the Amritapuri campus, Shibesh Dutta and Sivaramakrishnan R, will spend their final semester at IIT Bombay, conducting research in the cutting edge of nano device fabrication.
“Gate dielectrics of MOSFETs are typically made of silicon oxide,” the duo shared. “But as the MOSFET size reduces, high leakage currents impair the functioning of the device. We are studying the electrical characteristics of different dielectrics to find a suitable combination to overcome this problem.”
MOSFETs or Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors are used in integrated circuits as switches. Although India does not yet have a commercial semiconductor fab lab, research is ongoing at IIT Bombay and IISc, Bangalore into different aspects of the fabrication process. The project undertaken by these Amrita students also is at the forefront of this research work.
“We developed an interest in this subject after attending elective classes taught by our Professors,” the duo continued. “We are fortunate that we have teachers here at Amrita who are experts in their subjects.”
In their 5th semester, the two students, along with 40 others, registered for Electronic Materials Science, an elective offered by Dr. Sundar Gopalan. Dr. Balakrishnan Shankar covered a few topics in this elective class that taught semiconductor device physics.
Both Dr. Sundar and Dr. Balakrishnan have doctorates from the University of Texas at Austin. Both returned to India a few years ago and have been teaching at Amrita since that time. The two students registered for another elective class the following semester, Science of Microelectronic Fabrication. Offered by Dr. Sundar, the class had about 20 students. “In many other colleges, this class is only available to masters-level students,” the students explained.
The class was really fascinating,” they continued. “We learned in detail about the various steps involved in the fabrication process and the problems faced by the modern semiconductor processing industry.” During this course, sometime in February 2009, the students heard about the Indian Nanoelectronics Users Program (IUNP). Funded by the Government of India’s Department of Information Technology, the program spearheaded research in nano electronics at IIT Bombay and IISc, Bangalore.
That was how it all began. With the help of their two teachers, the students wrote a proposal, which was accepted for funding. Less than 20 proposals were accepted from all over India. Most proposals were submitted by M.Tech. or Ph.D. students. Theirs was one of the only two proposals submitted by B.Tech. student groups.
The students spent 8 weeks at IIT Bombay. Dr. Bala and Dr. Sundar also traveled to IIT Bombay at different times to guide the students. The students fabricated and studied the electrical characteristics of MOSCAPs made of titanium oxide and hafnium dioxide stacks. Now when they return, they will conduct similar studies with aluminum oxide and tantalum oxide stacks.
But first they may stop in Hong Kong. Their results from the work already completed have been accepted for presentation at the IEEE International Nanoelectronics Conference (INEC 2010) in the Chinese city. We wish them all the best.
December 16, 2009
School of Engineering, Amritapuri