University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering Annual Report 2003
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Mechanical Engineering

Roxann Englestad and Edward Lovell

Computational Mechanics Center yields
better chip-making processes

Under the direction of Mechanical Engineering Professors Roxann Engelstad (far left) and Edward Lovell, the College of Engineering's Computational Mechanics Center has been at the forefront of developing new methods to support the production of computer chips.

The center's work focuses on evaluating next-generation lithographies (for making computer chips) that are more advanced than current optical lithography methods. Optical lithography is limited because it cannot create the ever-smaller feature sizes of chips needed to deliver more power, store more memory, and perform more tasks.

Engelstad and Lovell use unique expeimentation and computer simulations to analyze masks for extreme ultraviolet, projection electron beam, X-ray and projection ion beam lithographies. They study the accuracy and stability of these thin-film masks that act as templates for transferring patterns to computer chips. The masks respond differently to mechanical and thermal factors that affect clarity or distortion of the patterns. The masks are tested in a vacuum chamber to replicate manufacturing environments.

Engelstad and Lovell's work in the Computational Mechanics Center is supported by SEMATECH (a consortium of semiconductor manufacturers that represents about half of the world's semi-conductor production), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Semiconductor Research Corporation.

Mesh-free computer software speeds up modeling design work

Computer-aided design (CAD) is very common in industry. But it can be time-consuming. Associate Professor Vadim Shapiro has developed software to make CAD easier and quicker.

Typical CAD software requires analyzing materials and objects on a grid, or mesh. This means that every geometric CAD model must be converted into a mesh consisting of thousands of interconnected elements before any analysis (for example, thermal or stress) can be performed. The tedious and time-consuming conversion procedure, called meshing, is only partially automated and often dominates both manual and computer processing time.

Shapiro, who directs the College of Engineering's Spatial Automation Laboratory, has developed a mesh-free approach to modeling and analysis that liberates the users and software applications from dependence on the mesh, thereby increasing flexibility, ease, and automation of computer-aided analyses.

Shapiro, whose work is supported by the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation, said the mesh-free software allows engineers or designers to essentially sidestep the process of generating a mesh. Instead, engineers work directly with the native CAD geometry, boundary conditions, and design parameters.

Shapiro added that the mesh-free approach is particularly effective in many emerging areas of engineering where the traditional mesh-based tools have not been sufficiently developed, such as include heterogeneous material modeling, layered manufacturing, and miniature-scale systems.

ERC collaborates with General Motors

A unique collaboration between the General Motors Corp. and the college's Engine Research Center (ERC) will focus on research to develop cleaner, more efficient diesel and gasoline engines. General Motors invested $5 million in the ERC to create a collaborative research laboratory. ERC researchers will use part of the funding to conduct extensive modeling of diesel exhaust after-treatment systems and diesel particulate emission traps. ERC researchers also will conduct experiments and three-dimensional simulations of advanced combustion processes for both diesel and gasoline engines, with the goal of creating engines with lower emissions and improved fuel economy.

Half of the $5 million goes toward specific research contracted between the ERC and General Motors, according to Professor of Mechanical Engineering David Foster, principal investigator for the research. The remaining portion of the funding finances ERC research initiatives. The ERC is one of only seven institutions worldwide to have received the prestigious designation from General Motors.


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Copyright 2003 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
Date last modified: Tuesday, 14-Oct-2003 16:40:00 CDT
Date created: 14-Oct-2003