Congratulations to Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Robert F. Hartmann Chair in Electrical Engineering, Jian-Ping Wang on being awarded the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) Technical Excellence Award for 2019. The award recognizes his “innovations and discoveries in nanomagnetics and novel materials that accelerated the production of magnetic random-access memories.”
The SRC Technical Excellence Award honors researchers who have developed a body of work that has creatively and consistently contributed to the field of semiconductor research, breaking new ground being leaders as well as collaborators in the community.
Prof. Wang’s work in nanomagnetism and novel spintronic devices has been of critical relevance, contributing to advancements in information storage and processing. The use and spread of semiconductors, once primarily driven by computers, communication devices, and other consumer electronics is now also driven by the rapidly growing AI, robots, and healthcare device market.
Many of Prof. Wang’s inventions related to magnetic recording, spintronic memory, and logic devices have been licensed to magnetic industry giants like Seagate and semiconductor industry leaders such as Micron and Intel. One of his inventions pertaining to magnetic tunnel junctions has been adopted in today’s STT-RAM, an advanced type of memory technology.
His contributions have not only impacted device development, but also pushed the frontiers of research in the area. Among his more recent contributions, in late 2018, Prof. Wang and his team in collaboration with researchers from Pennsylvania State University discovered the existence of unidirectional magnetoresistance in topological insulator-ferromagnetic bilayers. This research pointed out a way for a possible reading scheme for 3D magnetic memory. Wang’s published research on high-spin orbit torque due to quantum confinement in sputtered topological insulator (bismuth selenide) films represents some of the latest breakthrough in the field of spintronics. These discoveries have potential implications for the semiconductor industry, and opens up the door to enabling low power computing, brain-inspired computing, and chips for robots in the near future. The discovery of ruthenium as a ferromagnetic element at room temperature, in a collaborative undertaking led by Wang, opens an exciting new chapter in the fundamental studies of the element, and its application potential in the creation and scaling of magnetic memories, and breaking new ground in computing performance.
Prof. Wang initialized and led the world’s largest research center on spintronics (C-SPIN) that was supported by SRC and DARPA from 2012-2017. The prolific research outcomes of C-SPIN ranging from new spintronic materials, devices to novel computing architectures has triggered and nurtured many new research directions that are being being pursued further by academia, industry and defense organizations. The recently established federally funded SMART Center at the University is an outcome of the work carried out by C-SPIN. Currently, Wang is leading a multi-institutional endeavor to explore new materials, architectures, and systems that can overcome Moore’s Law, and push electronics technology forward, capable of meeting engineering, economic, and defense challenges. The University is supported in the effort by a $3.1 million grant from the Department of Defense (DoD).
As a recipient of INSIC’s (Information Storage Industry Consortium) technical achievement award (2006), Wang is the only professor in the country to be recognized for his technical accomplishments by both semiconductor and magnetic industries. He was also recently honored with the University’s 2019 Innovation Award for his entrepreneurial spirit and his outstanding ability to bring to life and commercialize innovative new technologies (Niron and Zepto Life Technology).
Notably, Prof. Chris Kim and Prof. Sachin Sapatnekar have received the SRC Technical Excellence Award in 2016 and 2003 respectively, bringing the number of ECE faculty who have received the SRC award to three.