For decades the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (SC) has been at the leading edge of microelectronics, both as a consumer and as an engine of scientific understanding that has enabled many of the technological breakthroughs adopted by industry. In turn, strong commercial demand fueled the pace of scaling and assured that the needs of SC facilities were met. SC supports robust basic research portfolios and scientific user facilities for chemical, physical, mathematical, and computational sciences, and modeling/simulation. Today, the end of Moore’s Law, along with the emergence of new computing needs (mobile, cloud, edge), new materials and devices, and new models of computation, have resulted in an unprecedented need and opportunity to “redesign” the innovation process, moving toward a co-design ecosystem that integrates design of materials, microelectronic devices, architectures, and algorithms throughout the research and development pipeline. As highlighted in the SC-sponsored Basic Research Needs for Microelectronics workshop report, to enable continued advances in computing and power technologies, a fundamental rethinking is needed of the science behind the materials and chemistry, physics, synthesis and fabrication technologies, architectures, algorithms, and software for microelectronics.

As the Nation’s leading supporter of basic research in the physical sciences, SC is poised at the convergence of these scientific disciplines, in a unique position to both play a critical role in microelectronic innovation over the coming decades, and to advance scientific discovery from the resultant capabilities in computing, sensing, power, and communications. This effort brings together five Office of Science programs – Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR), Basic Energy Sciences (BES), Fusion Energy Sciences (FES), High Energy Physics (HEP), and Nuclear Physics (NP). These activities are closely coordinated with related activities across the DOE, including in the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Advanced Manufacturing Office, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Office of Technology Transitions.

The DOE national laboratories have both the expertise and R&D infrastructure to play a key role in the advancement of microelectronic fabrication technologies, bringing together academic and national laboratory researchers with industry partners. In computing, the Office of Science (together with the NNSA) is the steward of the nation’s largest and fastest high performance computing facilities, and DOE has a close and established partnership with leading U.S. semiconductor manufacturers to design, build, and operate these world-leading computers. Going forward, technologies of the future will require discovery of novel materials and of new ways of synthesizing, characterizing, and configuring them at atomic length scales—all of which are simply beyond today’s capabilities. SC user facilities, including High Performance Computing Facilities, Nanoscale Science Research Centers, and X-ray and Neutron Scattering Facilities, are uniquely positioned to address this challenge through expanded/enhanced instrumentation and capabilities that are specifically targeted at future microelectronics devices and systems, and through computation and modeling that complement experimental synthesis, processing, fabrication, and characterization.