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Willson Receives NAS Award for Chemistry in Service to Society

     Dr. Grant Willson, holder of the Rashid Engineering Regents Chair in the Department of Chemical Engineering, will receive the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Award for Chemistry in Service to Society April 26 in Washington, D.C.

     The award, along with $20,000, will be given to Willson for his findings about the chemistry of materials that produce micropatterns in semiconductors and for the widespread application of those findings in the microelectronics industry. "This award is for work done over several years and recognizes that most of today’s advanced microelectronic devices (both microprocessors and memory) are made with some analog of materials that I and my colleagues have developed, either at IBM or here at UT," Willson noted.

     Willson’s most recent breakthrough occurred last year, when he and his graduate students at UT, working in conjunction with researchers at SEMATECH and DuPont Photomask, Inc., came up with a new coating for silicon chips and a more precise way of fashioning the quartz plate that contains the schematic of a semiconductor. The improvements could allow chips to be made roughly 40 percent the size of today’s most sophisticated microprocessors and with anywhere from 10 to 100 times the performance. The new technology may allow chip makers to put off for a decade or more the need to shift to entirely new types of lithography.