NIST unveils new leadership team to drive semiconductor innovation

NIST officials detailed the leadership of a new team tasked with helping bolster U.S. semiconductor research and development Tuesday.

NIST officials detailed the leadership of a new team tasked with helping bolster U.S. semiconductor research and development Tuesday. PhonlamaiPhoto / Getty Images

The agency’s CHIPS Research and Development Office aims to advance U.S. research and development efforts and "ensure America’s global leadership" in the semiconductor sector, officials said. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has compiled a new team of leaders to help spearhead federal research and development efforts that aim to boost U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing.

NIST Director Laura Locascio said Tuesday that the heads of the CHIPS Research and Development Office "will propel CHIPS for America and the nation’s semiconductor sector forward" by overseeing four new programs dedicated to advancing U.S. semiconductor technology and innovation. 

The office was established after Congress passed the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors — or CHIPS — Act last year, which included over $50 billion for domestic semiconductor research and development.

Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research at Penn State University, will serve as director of the office. Weiss, who also serves as president of the Penn State Research Foundation, oversees research efforts across the university's 12 academic colleges, as well as seven interdisciplinary research institutes and a university-affiliated research center for the Navy.

Eric Lin, former director of the NIST Material Measurement Laboratory, will serve as deputy director, and Neil Alderoty, former executive administrator of the laboratory, will serve as executive officer.

The CHIPS Research and Development Office is tasked with managing four integrated semiconductor programs, including the National Semiconductor Technology Center and the National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program. 

The office will also oversee up to three new manufacturing institutes focused on semiconductor technologies, as well as the CHIPS Metrology research and development program, which conducts measurement science to help develop new materials and production methods for U.S. semiconductors.

Richard-Duane Chambers will take on the role of associate director for integration and policy after serving as a lead staffer on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation's subcommittee on space and science. Maria Dowell will assume the role of director of the CHIPS Metrology Research and Development program, after previously serving as director of the NIST Communications Technology Laboratory.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said the new research and development programs "will ensure America’s global leadership by creating a robust semiconductor R&D ecosystem.

"These leaders bring exactly the depth and breadth of organizational, programmatic and technical leadership experience that CHIPS needs to stand up new, transformational R&D programs," Raimondo said in a statement. 

The U.S. currently produces an estimated 10% of the world's supply of semiconductors, while East Asia is responsible for more than 75% of global production. In addition to the nearly $50 billion included in the CHIPS Act for research and development, the bill also featured a $10 billion investment in regional innovation and technology hubs nationwide, as well as funding to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and workforce development activities.