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University of Iowa News Release

March 9, 2006

UI Receives $615,208 Federal Grant To Develop New Semiconductor Chip

University of Iowa researchers have received a five-year, $615,208 award from the U.S. Department of Defense as part of a multi-university research initiative (MURI) to develop a new type of semiconductor chip.

The UI research team, led by Michael Flatté, professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Physics and Astronomy, will work to design a chip that can independently process electronic, magnetic and optical information and convert from any one type to any other type of information. Such a chip, described as a "multifunctional" chip, would be highly compact and use considerably less power than a system constructed from several components that together performed the various functions of memory, logic and communications.

"Such a chip could revolutionize the computing, storage and communications capability of small portable devices such as cell phones," says Flatté.

At present, electronic devices rely on the electron charge to transport and store information, but the new technological approach to be pursued by this consortium relies on using another property of the electron, called "spin," to store and transport information, and to connect to optics and magnetics.

In addition to the UI, the MURI consortium, led by the University of California-Santa Barbara, also includes Cornell University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Virginia. The UI grant is part of a five-year Department of Defense grant that totals $5 million for all the consortium universities combined. Dr. Chagaan Baatar of the Office of Naval Research will monitor the program.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,