Spotlight on Nanoelectronics

Nanoelectronic systems are a new and exciting area of technology and the next step in the progression of   circuitrymicroelectronic systems. New nanoelectronic systems distinguish themselves from their microelectronic counterparts in that they are smaller, more integrated, operate at higher frequencies and use less power.

The newest Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technologies have gate lengths that are almost exclusively nanometer widths. These systems exhibit effects, such as quantum effects, that traditional micro-electronic systems do not and consequently the older design methodologies are not accurate.

Stan Skafidas – Professor in Nanoelectronics

Professor Stan Skafidas, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and NICTA’s Victoria Research Lab, leads the Melbourne School of Engineering’s research in nanoelectronics, as well as being the course coordinator for the Master of Nanoelectronic Engineering program.

Professor Skafidas received a PhD from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Melbourne in 1997. Before joining NICTA in 2004, he was Chief Technology Officer at Bandspeed, a company based in Austin Texas, which designs and manufactures semiconductor products for enterprise class wireless systems. At Bandspeed, Professor Skafidas co-invented Adaptive Frequency Hopping – an important standard component in Bluetooth devices.

Arriving at NICTA in July 2004 as Program Leader of Sensor Networks he went on to become Research Group Manager of Embedded Systems. In Feb 2008, Skafidas and his team made an important breakthrough in next-generation wireless technology, being the first to announce the development of an integrated transceiver using the CMOS process. This discovery will enable the truly wireless office and home of the future.

Professor Skafidas’ research interests include: wireless communications systems, systems on a chip, high speed mixed signal and radio frequency microelectronics, wireless power transfer and neural interface circuits. He currently leads research in the development of the next generation retinal stimulation prosthesis. This research builds on his earlier work in developing the world’s first next generation CMOS millimetre wave wireless communications transceiver.

Nanoelectronics Test and Design Facility

The Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering houses a nano and micro electronics test and design facility worth millions of dollars, which is a major drawer card for students wishing to study nanoelectronic engineering.

The electronics testing facility is unique in the South East Asian region, due to its ability to test devices from very small nano-scale, such as wafer systems, up to devices of 110 gigabytes.

The facility allows students to have a hands-on experience in designing and testing systems, allowing them to verify the theoretical models taught in class and providing an excellent balance between theory and practice.

Postgraduate research students get the opportunity to be involved in unique projects and world-firsts such as the development of:

  • bionic eye devices to aid the sight impaired
  • a complete transformer on CMOS
  • ‘radar on a chip’ technology to assist in driver safety
  • fast analogue to digital converters in excess of 1,000 gigabytes per second
  • diagnostic lab on a chip to monitor RNA and DNA in real time, with many applications in the clinical sciences.

Master of Nanoelectronic Engineering

The Master of Nanoelectronic Engineering is designed to provide electrical and electronic engineers with the technological skills required in the design and engineering of nanoelectronic circuits and systems. Students need to have a fundamental understanding of electronic circuits and devices, basic understanding of electromagnetic theory and analogue and digital signal processing theory. The program has been designed by Professor Stan Skafidas.

Students in the Master of Nanoelectronic Engineering program gain experience in designing real systems, while learning the theory behind manufacturing systems into products, translating industry design processes and goals into reliable and robust products. These students are learning how to lead from scientific discovery to product development and the limitations, challenges and opportunities that exist within this process.

Nanoelectronic engineers are in demand in medicine, the environment, aerospace, wireless and photonic communication systems, and automotive applications. As a result, graduates can expect to command high salaries and secure excellent working conditions and advancement opportunities in a range of professional areas.

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