Georgia Tech senior electrical engineering major Emily Korby won first place in the undergraduate research presentation competition at the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) 14th Annual TECHCON conference, held September 10-11, 2012 in Austin, Tex. She was among a group of seven students from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) who attended the conference, thanks to the generous support of SRC, joining the nation’s top scholars and industry veterans to present and discuss the latest developments in the semiconductor industry.
A participant in the Opportunity Research Scholars Program in the School of ECE, Ms. Korby was recognized for her work, “Properties of Photosensitive Polynorbornene Dielectric,” in the Interconnect and Packaging Center under the guidance of Ph.D. mentor Brennen Mueller and faculty advisor Paul Kohl, Regents’ Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Her research addresses a challenge in the microelectronics industry where polymers are commonly used as insulating layers in substrates, packages, and semiconductor devices. For this purpose, however, the polymer films must be cured so that they become permanent and mechanically rigid. Ms. Korby has been testing the viability of microwave curing to provide significantly faster cure times than conventional thermal curing. In addition, the effects of epoxy curing agents on the chemical, mechanical, and electrical properties of polymer films were also tested.
According to SRC staff, the judges reported stiff competition among the undergraduate research projects, yet Ms. Korby was awarded first place by unanimous vote due to her presentation skills, poise, and thorough knowledge of her research, all qualities that are addressed in workshops sponsored by the Opportunity Research Scholars Program, an undergraduate research experience that matches ECE students with Ph.D. student and faculty mentors. About the conference, Ms. Korby said, “The Opportunity Research Scholars Program was an integral part of my success at TECHCON 2012, providing me with the skills and confidence necessary to present my research poster. Taking part in ORS was one of the best decisions I have made as an undergraduate and helped me grow as a student and an individual. TECHCON 2012 will always be a highlight of my undergraduate career.”
ORS participants and electrical engineering seniors Laura Blanca and Austin Foote were also among students chosen to present their work at the conference. Ms. Blanca presented her research project, “Characterization of Dickson Charge Pump Efficiencies with Varying Input Power and Frequencies,” and Mr. Foote presented his research project, “Improved Signal Integrity and Power Consumption in High Speed Digital Circuits.” Their advisors are Gregory D. Durgin and Madhavan Swaminathan, respectively, both faculty members in the School of ECE, and their ECE Ph.D. mentors are Chris Valenta and Satyan Telikepalli, respectively. ORS electrical engineering students Matias Almada, Aaron Garofano, Randy Montgomery, and ORS computer engineering student Nikhil Ramesh also attended TECHCON 2012.
The Semiconductor Research Corporation 14th Annual TECHCON conference also marked the 30-year anniversary of collaborative work between industry and university researchers to achieve greater semiconductor enhancements and promote the new generations of chip technology. SRC’s expansive research programs include the Energy Research Initiative that focuses on electrical energy storage and power management and the Focus Center Research program that supports integrated circuit technology, components that are used in relatively all electronic equipment from mobile phones to computers. Attending the September conference were students and faculty from 52 of America’s top universities and distinguished representatives from industry and government.