Increasing functionality and complexity of integrated circuits, particularly those used in high performance computational devices such as computers but also in portable and mobile devices, necessitate high frequency communication links. The information generated and processed at the relentlessly increasing pace in these devices flows over the high frequency communication links between computation, storage and display units. The design and analysis of these high frequency communication links, much like the computation, storage and display units themselves, necessitate design and measurement equipment that is capable of supporting their multi-GHz range of operation. This project is for the acquisition of such a measurement testbed for high frequency interconnects to be located at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. Opportunistically, the measurement testbed is used for testing of many types of circuits and systems including those involving microelectronics, optics, sensors, radio-frequency applications, nano-electronics and molecular-electronics. Measurements of the circuit and system devices enabled with this infrastructure enable the development of computing devices that are increasingly portable, fast and significantly less power demanding than the current electronic products. The measurement testbed is used to develop lecture modules on high frequency measurement, bridging a gap with the US microelectronics industry demand with practical hands-on training with integrated circuit measurement and testing in undergraduate education.
The measurement testbed is used by a large number of faculty members at the host institution (and users in the Delaware Valley region) in a number of computing and non-computing projects. The primary computing projects that are enhanced by this measurement testbed are novel approaches in developing high performance integrated circuit interconnects: 1. On-chip wireless interconnects, 2. Resonant clock interconnects, 3. On-chip wireless interconnects. The measurement testbed is useful as a whole or in pieces to the many other computing and non-computing research areas thanks to enabling on-wafer testing and multi-port measurement. These additional projects range from reduced dimensional photonics for THz sensing to nanowires for energy storage and IC-based artificial photosynthesis.