Component Management

Countering microchip shortage with microelectronics R&D

7th April 2022
Sam Holland

The High Performance Center is addressing the microchip shortage with the combined expertise of four microelectronics institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft as well as of research groups at universities in Dresden and Chemnitz.

The economic consequences of the current chip shortage highlight the importance of microelectronics. In order to prepare for the future, technological sovereignty in microelectronics research and development is required, in addition to new production facilities in Europe. This is precisely the challenge that the High Performance Center 'Functional Integration for Micro-/Nanoelectronics' is addressing.

It combines the competencies of four microelectronics institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft as well as of research groups at universities in Dresden and Chemnitz. This way, the centre offers a whole spectrum of microelectronics and micromechanics technologies to both major players in the microelectronics industry and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs in particular can profit from a low-threshold service through the provision of technology platforms, which allows them to benefit from leading edge technology without the burden of excessively high development cost.

Following a decision by the Executive Board of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the High-Performance Center 'Functional Integration for Micro/Nanoelectronics' (High-Performance Center Micro/Nano) is being funded for another three years. In order to strengthen its transfer activities, the center will receive annual funding of €1 million from the Fraunhofer Society for the period from 2022 to 2024. The High Performance Center will be evaluated continuously and, if the evaluation result is positive, follow-up funding will be provided for a next three-year period.

In other words, continuity follows success – a guiding principle of many activities of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. From 2016 through to 2021, the High Performance Center developed cross-institutional technology platforms, an activity which was supported by project funding by the Free State of Saxony.

In the phase of continuation and stabilisation that has started now, the focus will be increasingly on the transfer to industry by offering research and development services using these technology platforms. In this context, the High Performance centre has created new forms of digital presentation, such as a virtual showroom.

As the coordinator of the High Performance Center Micro/Nano Professor Dr. Hubert Lakner from Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS explains: "The High Performance Center Micro/Nano has established itself as a valuable partner for industry and is systematically transfering new research results to innovative product development and applications."

A thematic focus of the centre’s transfer offer are technologies for integrated multi-sensor networks for the Industrial Internet of Things. Furthermore, the High Performance Center offers a transfer platform for the development and use of micromechanical ultrasonic transducers (MUT) as well as a technology platform for the processing and wafer-level packaging of 300-millimetre wafers. The services offered to industrial customers range from classic contract research to the provision of demonstrators and prototypes to pilot production.

High Performance Centers were established as a joint effort of Fraunhofer institutes, universities and other non-university research institutes targeting efficient transfer of excellent applied research to industry partners. These centres have clear topical as well as geographical focus, namely the participating research partners are located within the same region of Germany.

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