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The CIS Newsletter

The Center for Integrated Systems, Stanford University
Stanford, California

Spring 1997

Lucas NovaSensor Joins CIS
from Bob Dutton: Challenges Ahead for Research Funding
CIS SPIE Trip to Ericsson in Stockholm
Reis: New Communication Tools Impact Teaching and Research
Siemens FMA: A Success Story

Lucas NovaSensor Joins CIS

"Small Things Come in Good Packages!"

Lucas NovaSensor(LNS), the world's leading manufacturer of silicon sensors and microstructures, has become the newest partner company of the Center for Integrated Systems. Located in Fremont, California, their proximity to both Stanford and U.C. Berkeley affords LNS the opportunity to remain on the cutting edge of research and development in the advancement of semiconductors and computer technologies. Since its founding in 1985, Lucas NovaSensor has been a pioneer in the development and production of low-cost, high-performance sensors and transducers utilizing advanced silicon micromachining processes and computer-aided design techniques.

"Our relationship with the Stanford Center for Integrated Systems is of great importance to Lucas NovaSensor. Our aim is for a long term relationship, as opposed to short term research contracts and grants," said John Pendergrass, Vice President and COO of Lucas NovaSensor.

Pendergrass John Pendergrass, Vice President and Chief Operating Office of LNS

Research and Development in General

LNS is the industry leader in the design, development and production of custom MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS), specializing in surface and bulk silicon micromachining to create three-dimensional sensors and structures. Proprietary technologies utilize integrated circuit batch processing to fabricate unique mechanical microstructures onto silicon wafers. Sensors are manufactured with their patented SenStable® technology, ensuring unparalleled electrical stability. Silicon Fusion Bonding (SFB) of silicon wafers at the molecular level enables smaller, more complex, mechanical sensor geometrics. Integrated Sensor Packaging allows advanced microsensors to operate continuously in harsh environments: high operating temperatures, acids, solvents or corrosive gases.

Deep Reactive Ion Etching (DRIE) in Particular

Lucas NovaSensor is a pioneer in Deep Reactive Ion Etching (DRIE), a new process with dramatic potential for microstructure designs. More controlled than conventional methods, DRIE effectively increases silicon surface area with deeper vertical etching, allowing significant reductions in horizontal chip size, more flexible designs in silicon, and custom sculpting. DRIE can improve microfluidics for medical applications such as drug delivery, DNA analysis, and chemical sensing. DRIE can enhance telecommunications systems by producing smaller, more powerful chips for low power tuning networks, better oscillators, better capacitors, better resonators, and filters.

In transportation, DRIE has significant potential to improve performance and reduce the size of accelerometers, gyroscopes, and fuel delivery systems.

Real Products for Real Applications

LNS manufactures over 15 million sensors per year including pressure sensors and other specialized micromachined sensors for a variety of automotive, biomedical, industrial and consumer electronic applications. As the world's largest producer of pressure sensors for invasive and noninvasive procedures in the medical industry, LNS has developed sensors for such things as intracardial pressure, intrauterine pressure (IUP), disposable angioplasty balloon catheters, infusion pumps, dialysis equipment, respirators, and infant ventilators.

Lucas NovaSensor World Wide Web Sitemap

Microsensors with automotive applications keep large tractor trailer drivers continually informed about tire temperature and pressure, while they have developed sensors for tire pressure, manifold absolute pressure (MAP), oil pressure and fuel in passenger cars. LNS' products are used in heating, ventilation, refrigeration, food processing, hydraulic monitoring and wastewater treatment and they are the leading supplier of pressure sensors to large industrial OEM manufacturers.

Finally, LNS has developed sensors for consumer products including recreation, physical fitness, and home applications - hang gliders, mountaineering equipment, sports training, bicycle tires and SCUBA tanks.

LNS sensors on the Stanford Mars probe

Noting that the performance of commercial micromachined pressure sensors was not appropriate for the upcoming Mars probe mission under the direction of Stanford

Mechanical Engineering Prof. Tom Kenny, the group chose to select and individually calibrate a set of LNS pressure sensors. Such sensors were chosen to demonstrate two important principles. (1) Micromachined silicon pressure sensors can be packaged to survive violent deployment, and are therefore suitable for space applications. (2) Off-the-shelf MEMS devices are not generally intended for such high-performance applications, but careful instrumentation design and precise calibration can enable their use. The data collected will illustrate the potential high performance of off-the-shelf piezoresistive pressure sensors which are carefully instrumented and individually-calibrated.

At the Fall 1996 CIS Advisory Committee Meeting Nadim Maluf, consulting professor in EE at the Stanford Micromachined Transducers Laboratory and Lucas NovaSensor's representative on the CIS Advisory Committee emphasized the importance of R&D in MEMS, the key role played by universities in providing R&D for small and medium sized companies, and the benefits of a long term relationship with CIS.

Nadim Maluf Nadim Maluf, LNS Chief Scientist

He noted some of the recent LNS and CIS collaborative activities, including a joint DARPA contract, a joint NSF Program, LNS staff using the Stanford CIS facility, Stanford students using the LNS facility, joint (Stanford and LNS) student advising, and two-way technology transfer.

As Maluf recently remarked: "Stanford has been of great help. A small company needs access to emerging advanced technologies. CIS has been a very productive partnership, of great benefit to LNS."

Maluf went on to provide the committee with an excellent listing of what CIS offers to its partner companies:
* Advanced R&D facilities in close proximity,
* Easy access to facilities,
* Very qualified students and faculty,
* Readiness to work with industry,
* Broad research base covering many existing and emerging technologies,
* Strong MEMS research program,
* Excellent pool of students for future hire,
* CIS as a focal point for many companies: Inter-company relationships.

Lucas NovaSensor provides advanced solutions for microsensor applications. Advanced technologies, innovative solutions and fast development are the key ingredients of its success in the microsensor industry.

For more information, see the Lucas NovaSensor web site at

Lucas NovaSensor is a business unit of Lucas Varity's Electrical and Electronic Systems Group.

Welcome Lucas NovaSensor!

Bob Dutton

Challenges Ahead for Research Funding

As the academic year draws to a close, many students are preparing to enter the workforce - in either summer or full-time positions. Fortunately, the job market is good and companies are increasingly eager to offer challenges to talented students who thrive on projects forging new paradigms. Whether in the area of devices, circuits (digital, analog or mixed-technology) or systems (hard, firm or software based), our students have gained essential experience through project-oriented courses that often include real prototyping and testing. In many cases, the prototyping is leveraged by strategic industrial assistance, for example chip fabrication, design tools and a range of donated equipment (computers, instrumentation, IC fabrication). Combined with a growing electronics industry, one might conclude all is well on the research front. It is our academic nature to be optimistic, if for no other reason than the fact that working with smart and independent-minded students is conducive to growth in the pursuit of new horizons.

There are, however, clouds in the "research funding sky" that most certainly carry precipitation. For example, it is well-known that competitiveness has generally effected a restructuring (as well as downsizing) of research worldwide. Semiconductor Industry Associates (SIA) has tried to quantify the gap between projected demands for research that exceed projected supply, including dollar estimates of the shortfall. (The SIA projections do not include specific considerations of the ongoing need for new graduates to enter the workforce.) In an ambitious plan to help fill the research gap, SIA Focus Centers are being planned that will ramp up over several years and which are projected to support several tens-of-millions dollars annually in research across about a dozen technical areas - design and interconnects are the first two now in the white-paper/proposal stages.

Bob Dutton explaining his work to local elementary school children during "Exploring New Worlds," an outreach program of the Stanford Society of Women Engineers on May 10, 1997 (photo by Tomtor Varutbangkul

At the same time, there is an ongoing effort (and mandate) in Washington to balance the budget. The Department of Defense (DoD) continues to be a major user of electronics. Yet, with the abundance of commercial products and off-the-shelf (COTS) technology, there is a preponderance of military (and congressional) opinion that DoD leverage, including R&D in semiconductors, is not needed - the industry will do it themselves. The XORs (X=Army, Navy, Air Force; OR=office of research) have been under severe budgetary pressure for several years. Increased emphasis on mission-oriented projects, leveraged by unique DoD requirements is also now affecting the semiconductor research-related support coming from DARPA. The combined shifts of emphasis and total funds spent by DoD compound the problem of R&D shortfalls projected by SIA in this area. Certainly the SIA and our CIS partner companies are becoming aware of these trends. Our challenge is how to sustain a vibrant research environment, including the continued support of graduate education of new talent needed to fuel the information revolution.

The Stanford-endowed graduate fellowship program (CIS Newsbrief #49) is one very positive and powerful step that will support 300 students annually when the project reaches steady state - 100 new students will start on the program each year. Yet, experimental prototyping in the areas of technology circuits and integrated systems require much more than fellowship support. NSF understood this reality when it took the bold step in the formulation and support of the National Nanofabrication Users Network (NNUN). The NNUN seed grant program supported through CIS partner contributions has been of strategic importance to bootstrap low budget, concept-proving technology prototypes. More such efforts, perhaps with specific support from industry, are needed.

* * *

In the past two newsletters we have highlighted projects in the systems and technology areas. The circuits and design technologies area is the third broad focus of the CIS research program, with several highly visible projects that are successful from the applications side; the distributed sensors project headed by Professors Greg Kovacs and Teresa Meng and the wireless architectures project that Professors Tom Lee and Bruce Wooley head are two excellent examples. Both these projects are relatively mature and have attracted growing direct interactions (including FMA connections) among the faculty, students and industrial partners. There has also been some important progress in thermal modeling of IC devices and interconnects that Professor Ken Goodson (ME) has pioneered, and which is now funded both by CIS (through FMA contributions) and SRC.

Brenda Guzman
Elementary School Student Brenda Guzman (photo by Jennifer Zwarich)

Probably the most exciting developments in the CAD area come from our faculty in both the Computer Science Department and Computer Systems Laboratory (in EE) that are broadly attacking the challenges of digital system design, validation and computational prototyping. Professor Nanni DeMicheli is addressing the challenge of how to use the power of an internet-based prototyping environment to harness the power of distributed human and computational resources. Professors Kunle Olukotun, Mark Horowitz and David Dill are active in the design and verification of high performance systems (and networks) of processors. As an overarching theme, the design of chips and larger systems (of chips) limited by interconnections has become a dominant driver of this group's common research. Owing to the importance of this topic - design technologies for interconnects - I will devote a major portion of the next newsletter to outlining the interrelationship of our thrust research efforts across this broad area.

Bob Dutton
CIS Director of Research

CIS SPIE Trip to Ericsson in Stockholm

In March of this year, three CIS students, accompanied by Professors Tom Lee and Teresa Meng, visited

Ericsson Components Micro Electronics Research Center (MERC) in Stockholm, Sweden as part of the CIS Student-Partner Information Exchange program. Director Gunnar Björklund, "ever the gracious host," gave an overview of Ericsson presentation and welcomed the Stanford team by saying: "I hope the warmth of our welcome makes you forget our cold weather."

SPIE Trip Ericsson 1997
(L to R) Jouni Eisoaha (KTH), Anders Wass, Saleh Osman, Teresa Meng, Hans Kalldin, Gunnar Björklund, Arvin Shahani, Mar Hershenson, Tom Lee, Ted Johansson, Derek Shaeffer, Christian Nyström, and Jose Gobbi

The students, all from the Tom Lee/Teresa Meng "Real Radio" research group reported that "It was wonderful discussing technical matters with the Ericsson people. The flow of information was bidirectional and we learned a great deal." Their individual personal feedback is worth quoting in full:

Arvin Shahani, EE graduate student of Professor Lee:

"I was impressed with the engineers at Ericsson. They were excellent hosts and provided good discussions about our research topics. The interaction was a two way process, and we came away from Ericsson with a sense of accomplishment."

Mar Hershenson, EE graduate student of Professor Lee:

"Ericsson organized a great visit for us. Dr. Martin Schoon provided me with ideas for research in power amplifiers. Also, talking to Dr. Ted Johansson was very informative. He explained what he had done and what was currently being done in power amplifier research. The people at Ericsson made us feel very welcome. They were extremely nice hosts."

Derek Shaeffer, EE graduate student of Professor Lee:

"I was very impressed by the quality of the interaction that we had with our hosts at Ericsson. The questions that we were asked about our research were of a caliber that betrayed a level of insight that is rare. In addition, the dialogue was bidirectional; we were able to benefit from some of their own research results that were directly relevant to ongoing research here at Stanford."

Gunnar BjorklundEricsson MERC Director Gunnar Björklund greeting the SPIE Team

During the trip, the SPIE group also visited KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology. Professor Meng met with Digital Signal Processing people from Ericsson, while Professor Lee and the three students met with analog circuits people, discussing several topics, including low noise amplifiers, phase noise in oscillators, power amplifiers, and new mixer topologies.

Significant progress was made during the course of their technical discussions, and future collaboration has been planned.

SPIE team to
Ericsson 1997
CIS SPIE Team to Ericsson, March 1997 (L to R): Derek Shaeffer, Teresa Meng, Mar Hershenson, Tom Lee and Arvin Shahani

New Communication Tools Impact Teaching and Research

by Richard M. Reis
Executive Director

Higher education is not in danger. But we would be wise to ask whether the particularly quaint way in which universities now do their work will survive the transformation of information technology. It may, but I don't think so. I expect to see major changes - changes not only in execution of the mission of universities but in our perception of the mission itself. William A. Wulf, University of Virginia, Charlottesville

There is still a great deal of hype with respect to the communications revolution, and some of it is not even new. You have only to read articles about how the expansion of radio in the 1920's would reduce the need for more universities, or the predicted effect of television and videophones on education in the early 1950's to realize that political, economic, and social considerations have as much to do with whether things really change as does the actual technology. Yet certain inventions, the telephone for example, had a utility so high, and a cost so low, that their value was quickly realized. We are now at a point with the new communications technologies where their impact on the teaching and research communities could be quite profound, and Stanford, CIS, and our partner companies will make significant contributions to this effort.

Impact on Teaching

Digital libraries, multimedia, CD-ROMs, the Internet and videoconferencing are increasing in popularity at Stanford and elsewhere, not only because they make it possible to do old things in new ways, for example, video broadcasts of traditional "talk and chalk" presentations, but because they also make it possible to do new things in new ways, for example, the electronic sharing of class notes among students. How many times, in how many courses, and at how many Stanford locations, do we need to have faculty lecturing on the third law of thermodynamics? Cannot these lectures be modularized in one set of outstanding presentations, available on demand to students in such courses as physics, chemistry, and mechanical engineering?

Dale Harris Two-way link between Stanford and Sweden with Björn Gudmunson, Stanford Prof. Dale Harris, Executive Director Center for Telecommunications and Björn Pehrson, Chairman of KTH Department of Teleinformatics

The Stanford

Center for Professional Development's "Stanford Online" program is moving in this direction. Through this program, the first in the nation to incorporate video with audio, text, and graphics, engineering and computer science courses are made available anywhere, anytime, and on-demand to Stanford students and to busy industry professionals.

The National Science Foundation sponsored Synthesis Coalition is an example of a program making extensive use of communications tools in undergraduate engineering education. The Coalition is a union of eight diverse institutions, including Stanford, whose goal is to design, implement and assess new approaches to undergraduate teaching and learning. These approaches include an emphasize on multidisciplinary synthesis, teamwork, communication, hands-on and laboratory experiences, open problem formulation and solving, and the use of "best practices" from industry.

Impact on Research

With respect to research, communications advances provide new and different possibilities for collaboration among investigators next door and around the world. As Paul Losleben, senior research scientist at CIS puts it:

I've been in this business for over 30 years, and I've never seen anything with the impact of the present revolution in computing and communications. It's like we've passed a threshold, and suddenly things are easy. The Internet is seeing a 15-20% growth rate per month. This is more than just an occurrence, this is a phenomenon!

Communication tools allow for more than just the sharing of information via e-mail or on the World Wide Web. They make possible real-time collaboration, including the remote sharing of data, the operation of equipment and the carrying out of experiments. Hypermedia - hyper links to documents, video, and sound - increase dramatically the information bandwidth and are beginning to make long-distance collaboration a reality. Through such "teleresearch," investigators are not only able to see each other via video displays on their desks but also to interact with shared graphics and other information on their screens.

Losleben and Dwain Boning, a professor at M.I.T., are collaborating on a jointly funded project dealing with the remote monitoring, fault detection and diagnosis of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Among other things, this project involves the remote monitoring by researchers at Stanford of an Applied Materials P5000 machine at M.I.T.

Such collaborations have the potential of breaking what sociologists refer to as the "eight-meter rule" which is based on the observation that the most significant interactions take place among people who are in close physical proximity to each other.

I believe we are going to see increasing use of these new technologies in teaching, learning and research, with our CIS member companies serving as true partners in our mutual efforts.

Siemens FMA: A Success Story

Fellow: Patrick Canupp, Aeronautics/ Astronautics Department
Mentor: Ralf Peter Brinkmann, Siemens AG
Advisor: Robert MacCormack, Aeronautics/Astronautics Department
Project: Plasma reactor simulation

It all began in the summer of 1995 when Dr. Ralf Peter Brinkmann, who works in the simulation project (on plasma modeling) at

Siemens AG, was visiting Stanford and CIS Executive Director Rick Reis arranged for him to meet with Aeronautics and Astronautics Professor Bob MacCormack.

At Siemens Brinkmann was working on the development of a computer program to enable self-consistent simulation of plasma processing. The project was in its early design phase. "I had already made a list of sub-projects to be performed, one of which was the task of writing an efficient neutral gas simulator," commented Brinkmann. Professor MacCormack was looking for a new field in which to apply his specialty, simulation of neutral gas flow at low pressure. He was also looking for funding for a student, Patrick Canupp, who was anxious to dive into a new applications area.

As a result a very successful CIS FMA (Fellow/Mentor/Advisor Program) relationship was born. As Brinkmann puts it: "You can imagine how well we fit into our respective plans. So in some respect, it was a coincidence. But then, CIS does a lot to make these coincidences happen!"

At that time, Siemens had an FMA collaboration with CIS already in place, involving Peter Smeys (F), Herman Jacobs (M) and Professor Krishna Saraswat (A). There was no question that when Peter graduated, Siemens was going to continue their FMA program and that their next fellow would be Patrick.

In a plasma reactor there is plasma, i.e. a gas of electrons and ions generated by ionizing the feedgas. However, most of the feedgas (99.9999% or so) is NOT ionized, but still an ordinary (neutral) gas. Describing that gas and its flow at low pressure is something very different from describing a plasma, and complicated in its own right.

Fellow Patrick Canupp and Mentor Ralf Brinkmann at CIS, May 1997

In response to the demand for the processing of large wafers, semiconductor equipment manufacturers have proposed low pressure, high density plasmas for etch applications. Since the neutral gas participated in the etching mechanism, this FMA sought to develop a fast simulation tool capable of predicting reactor performance with external operating conditions such as pressure and feedstock gas flow rate.

While Brinkmann developed a fast electronegative plasma model, Canupp worked on a neutral gas simulator in order to take results from the plasma code as inputs and determine the neutral gas behavior.

Together, to quote Canupp: "We have developed a numerical technique for simulating the neutral gas component of etching plasmas. The fellowship has fostered close interaction between myself and the Equipment Simulation Group at Siemens."

Brinkmann speaks quite favorably of Patrick Canupp in general, and particularly of the progress he has made on their joint FMA project. "I think his astonishing speed is partly due to his hard work, and partly due to the encouraging environment in which he works."

Patrick Canupp now prepares to leave CIS, having successfully completed not only his Ph.D., and taken a teaching position as Assistant Professor of Mathematics, but also his FMA with Siemens. According to Brinkmann, "Our experiences with the two FMAs have demonstrated that a collaboration between CIS and Siemens Corporate Research is possible, even though there are several thousand miles, and nine time zones, between us."

CIS Newsletter
The CIS Newsletter is published four times a year. Articles, letters, and photos are welcome; send them to the CIS Newsletter, c/o Center for Integrated Systems, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-4070.

Editor: Harrianne Mills


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Updated 7/16/97

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