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Taiwan amplifies microelectronics strength

Posted: 17 May 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:microelectronics? EDA? sensors?

Taiwan is well known as a microelectronics manufacturing powerhouse for innovations "Designed in California" as Apple puts it. Now, however, the island country is making a concerted effort to pioneer its own electronics innovations-starting at its National Taiwan University (NTU), whose government-sponsored research labs are prepping for home-grown electronics with mass-market appeal.

No one exemplifies that spirit more than NTU's president, IEEE Fellow Si-Chen Lee whose own research at his Amorphous- and Poly-Silicon Thin Film Transistor Lab has yielded next-generation sensors using quantum dots and nanowires.

"We perceive the world with our senses, but there is more out there all around us that we have not yet been able to sense, but perhaps can with the appropriate sensors," said Lee.

In exclusive interviews with EE Times, NTU's microelectronic pioneers recently described their efforts to widen Taiwan's microelectronics expertise base by advancing the frontiers of science and technology with its industry partners, which include TSMC, Mediatek, Intel and others, at its collaborative research centres.

From EDA to KDD

Taiwan's success so far has been in large part due to electronic design automation (EDA) expertise, where it has only been outperformed by the U.S. for the last five yearsas measured by number of research papers its presented at the IEEE's Design Automation Conference (DAC) and International Conference on Computer Aided Design (IC-CAD). However, it is not just about EDA anymore in the research labs at the country's premiere university, where scientists are diversifying into every field of microelectronicsfrom nanomaterials to ergonometric apps.

"Taiwan is already the number one producer worldwide of notebook PCs, LCD monitors, chip-testing and chip-foundry services," said IEEE Fellow and associate dean of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science College at NTU, Yao-Wen Chang. "Our microelectronics companies include the number one contract manufacturer, Hon Hoi [Foxconn], the number one chip foundry, TSMC, and the number one maker of notebook PCs and servers, Quanta Computer."

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