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Design Automation for Micro and Nano Systems

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.


VLSI design methodologies are exceptionally challenged by the rapid advances in deep submicron, mechanical (MEMS), optical, nano, and quantum computing media. This program supports basic research underlying the science and methodologies for designing integrated systems comprised of micro systems in traditional silicon VLSI technology, in MEMS technologies, and in computing media of the future. Since new computing technologies are not expected to replace silicon in the foreseeable future, research must continue on silicon VLSI design as well as design in new technologies. The program primarily addresses three areas: exploration of fundamental questions of how to design in future computing media; meeting challenges of design in VLSI silicon as geometries shrink; and investigating design methods for technologies such as optical, MEMS and mixed signal.

Design in Future Computing Media: As with VLSI, giant strides may occur when the design process is separated from the development of the underlying medium. Enhancing the dialogue between the silicon design community and non-silicon technologists may stimulate crossover activities between EDA design researchers and micro/nano/molecular technology researchers. Examples of research activities and questions include, but are not limited to the following:

  • What does one need to surround a new technology to allow it to scale into a designable system?
  • How can the key insights of the silicon revolution - models of computation, abstraction and design hierarchies, smooth design to fabrication flow, discovery of fundamental primitives, synthesis methodologies, etc - be translated into new technologies?
  • How could one develop abstractions of interactions at nano, molecular, quantum levels, and incorporate them with models of computation in the new technologies?
  • Identifying building blocks in MEMS, nano and molecular technologies so that huge networks of nano devices could be assembled into randomized architectures.
  • Understanding the abstractions and formulating them into simple engineering models.
  • Can we preserve the Architecture => Layout => Timing model from silicon VLSI?
  • The complexity of design algorithms in new technologies needs to be understood.
  • Workshops to explore general and specific questions of design in new technologies.
  • EVENTUALLY there will be a need for design strategies, finding methods for defect recovery, repair, fault tolerance, and for porting internal computations to the outside.

Traditional VLSI Electronic Design: Here the emphasis is on the basic science for design for next generation VLSI chips. Design media are deep submicron technologies. Research covers all phases of the design cycle for integrated circuits and systems, from conception through testing. The three basic segments here are system design, physical design and testing. General research topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Algorithms for analysis, synthesis, and simulation,  
  • System-on-a-chip,  
  • Validation and verification methodology,  
  • Manufacturing test.

Design for Mixed Technologies: These are optical, mechanical (MEMS) and mixed signal (analog-electrical) within a micro-system. Here the technology has matured to the point that many different microsensor and microactuator devices can be fabricated in the same process, and a design science needs to be developed. General research topics include those above, with emphasis on computational models, and foundational studies pertaining to analysis, behavior modeling, validation, and testing.

Program contacts

Debbie C. Jones
Division Secretary/Program Assistant
djones@nsf.gov (703) 292-8930 MPS/CHE
Sankar Basu
Program Director
sabasu@nsf.gov (703) 292-8910 CISE/CCF

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