Nian Sun


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Extending Device Frontiers – Materials Integration, Transduction, and Reconfigurability

A widely accepted opinion is that the Moore's Law that has been governing the semiconductor industry in the past several decades is coming to an end as we no longer have a doubling of transistors on a chip every 18 months. This doesn't mean that progress on semiconductor materials and devices will come to a complete stop. In 2020, Samsung and TSMC entered volume production of 5 nm chips; while in 2021, TSMC began mass production of 3nm chips. There is not much room for further reduction of the Si transistor feature size. At the same time, there is ample room for improvements on extending the device frontiers of semiconductors, including the integration of smart materials (magnetics, ferro/piezoelectrics, magnetoelectrics, multiferroics, etc.), transduction, and reconfigurability. In the past decade, we have witnessed rapid progress on the integration of piezoelectric materials and their MEMS/NEMS devices on Si microelectronics, and integration of magnetic materials on Si for integrated power supply on chip (PWRSoC), and RFIC, new magnetoelectric materials, and devices on Si microelectronics [1-4]. At the same time, we have seen the rapid development of magnetic printed circuit boards with their relative permeability improved from 1 to 100 [5]. However, there has been a large gap between industrial production lines and demonstrations in research labs. In this presentation, I will discuss the challenges and opportunities of extending device frontiers, including materials integration, transduction, and reconfigurability.

1.    P.J. Shah, et al. Sciences Avances, 6 (49), eabc5648 (2020).
2.    M. Zeimbashi, IEEE Journal of Electromagnetics, RF and Microwaves in Medicine and Biology, 3, 206 (2019).
3.    H Lin, et al, MRS Bulletin, 43 (11), 841-847 (2018).
4.    T. Nan, et al. Nature Comm. 8, 296 (2017).
5.    N.X. Sun, et al. “Millimeter thick magnetic print circuit boards (PCBs) with a high relative permeability of 50~150 and related devices and systems”, Provisional Patent, Application # 63116827.


Nian Sun is a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and in affiliation with Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering, Director of the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Integrated Ferroics, Northeastern University, and founder and chief technology advisor of Winchester Technologies, LLC. He received his Ph.D. degree from Stanford University. Prior to joining Northeastern University, he was a Scientist at IBM and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. Dr. Sun was the recipient of the Humboldt Research Award, NSF CAREER Award, ONR Young Investigator Award, Outstanding Research Award, Oustanding Translational Research Award, etc. His research interests include novel magnetic, ferroelectric, and multiferroic materials, devices, and microsystems, novel gas sensors, and sensor systems, etc. He has over 280 publications and over 30 patents and patent applications. One of his papers was selected as the “Ten most outstanding full papers in the past decade (2001~2010) in Advanced Functional Materials”. He is a fellow of the IEEE, the Institute of Physics, and the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and an editor of IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, Sensors, etc.