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Supporting the Growth of Next-Generation Semiconductor Technology and Talent Pool

2023-08-07 Research

The Global Research Center for Next-generation Semiconductor (Director: Professor Jongwook Park, Department of Chemical Engineering) has announced its selection for the Gyeonggi-do Regional Research Center (GRRC) project

In this project, the center sets out to establish an international base for semiconductor research, development, and production. It will support the development of advanced devices, materials, processes, and equipment for the development of next-generation semiconductors and grow young talents and experts of the future. GRRC is a government-industry-academia-research cooperation project conducted by Gyeonggi-do to foster local industries such as application technology development and manpower training by utilizing university resources for the purpose of strengthening the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises in the province.

Establishment of an open R&D environment such as industry-university-research cooperation platform
As demand for system semiconductors surges in the era of Industry 4.0, competition for global market leadership is intensifying beyond the corporate level in that increasingly more national governments are directly involved in the growth of semiconductor industry as part of state strategy. System semiconductors are key parts of future high-tech industries such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and autonomous-driving cars. Korea, which is widely regarded as a memory semiconductor powerhouse, is showing weakness in this field: materials, parts, and manufacturing equipment are lagging behind by a significant margin. The gap between Korean semiconductor companies and global leaders in this aspect is further widening due to the lack of source technology and well-trained expert personnel. The problem is also exacerbated by the fundamental structure of the Korean economy which is highly dependent upon foreign imports in terms of technology development and supply chain.

In order to localize the production of semiconductor materials, parts, and equipment, it is essential to secure source technology and build infrastructure. In the case of system semiconductors, extremely costly technological infrastructure is required as a prerequisite including design & verification tools and semiconductor design IP assets. This limits the entry into business for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with moderate capital.

Based on this analysis, the Global Research Center for Next-generation Semiconductor determined that it is necessary to establish a supporting system that promotes university-led industrial research activities. The center plans to create an open research and development (R&D) environment by building an open platform. The idea is to strengthen the joint R&D and technology exchange system by establishing a foundation for industry-academia-research cooperation. The center will draw from Kyung Hee’s extensive research capabilities including semiconductor-related technologies, facilities, equipment, industry-university cooperation foundations, and business incubation centers to advance the industrialization and commercialization of semiconductor companies' technologies. Through industry-academia joint R&D, it also helps discover new product ideas and business growth models for small and medium-sized enterprises and venture companies that are having difficulties in finding their niche of strength in new technologies or commercializing them.

Securing source technology to respond to future semiconductor materials, processes, and devices
The center will start introducing the latest technology to current industry personnel and nurturing young students to continuously grow the semiconductor industry and solve the chronic shortage of expert manpower. The proposed educational program for technology professional development includes specialized courses, customized training in new theory, process, and practice, as well as business management and entrepreneurship professional courses. The center also aims to raise field specialists and master's and doctorate-level research personnel by operating programs for intensive semiconductor majors, university-corporate undergraduate contract departments, and semiconductor-related integrated undergraduate-graduate programs for students.

The center plans to secure source technologies for future semiconductor materials, processes, and devices such as intelligent semiconductors, AI semiconductors, flexible semiconductors, and wearable semiconductors through industry-academic joint research. In order to develop next-generation semiconductors, we intend to carry out research to secure application technologies beyond developing key element technologies for ultra-fine processes where competition is intensifying. A plan is underway to reduce the ultra-miniaturization process of semiconductor devices from nanometers to sub-nanometers below one nanometer. Next-generation semiconductor advanced materials based on molecular simulation and thin film deposition processes capable of controlling sub-nanometer microstructures will also be developed. A total of 54 researchers, including 14 professors who have researched the application of semiconductor-related materials and product development, will conduct research with participating companies.

※ For further insights
- Explore Professor Park Jongwook's research profile
- Explore Professor JEON Woojin's research profile
- Explore Professor Oh Jin Young's research profile

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