University of Pittsburgh
December 4, 2001

DARPA and NSF Fund University of Pittsburgh Research on "Next Generation" CAD Technology Multimillion-Dollar Effort Incorporates Photonics, Electronics, and Micromechanics University of Delaware, Army Research Lab, Three Corporate Partners Aid Project

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—A new research effort to develop the next generation of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools—incorporating electronic circuitry, photonics, and micromechanical components on the same chip—has begun at the University of Pittsburgh School of Engineering and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Under the direction of Steven P. Levitan, the John A. Jurenko Professor of Computer Engineering and professor of electrical engineering, and Donald M. Chiarulli, professor of computer science and computer engineering, the program will develop new software tools and design methods, including models for microoptics and micromechanical devices, as well as a system-level technique for fast-turnaround modeling of end-to-end system behavior.

The program is supported by a $2 million grant from the Micro-Systems Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and a $630,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"This grant will enable us to develop new software tools and design methods for microdevices that go beyond traditional digital integrated circuits," said Levitan. "Rather, these microdevices contain electronics, optics, and mechanical components in the same chip. In the past, these designs took specialized tools for optical design, mechanical design, and electronics. The challenge is to integrate all these skills into one software package."

Examples of these systems are already emerging in applications ranging from high-performance displays to fiber-optic network switches. One of the most common examples of the technology currently in use is accelerometer sensors that control air bag deployment in cars.