Featured Engineer

Interview with Dr. Yu-Ming Lin

Dr. Yu-Ming Lin

Dr. Yu-Ming Lin - Research Staff Member with IBM

What are your favorite hardware tools that you use?

My favorite tools usually vary with the projects I was involved. It has changed from a pair of tweezer to a scanning electron microscope depending over time. One of my all-time favorite tools is a six-arm microprobe station (as shown in the background of the picture), which allows for fast and accurate electrical testing on electronic devices under a variety of environment and conditions, such as cryogenic temperatures and vacuum. My favorite electrical testing equipment includes semiconductor analyzer and vector network analyzer that I currently use to test high-frequency transistors and RF circuits.

What are your favorite software tools that you use?

I wonder if PS3 games count as software tools? Other than that, I have used MATLAB for the acquisition and analysis of experimental data, Igor for graphs, L-Edit and GYM for CAD design, and MS PowerPoint.

What is on your bookshelf?

On my bookshelf, I have “Numerical recipe” by Cambridge Press, “Introduction to Solid-State Physics” by Charles Kittle, “Solid-State Physics” by Ashcroft/Mermin, and a Springer Handbook of Nanotechnology, and “Noise” by Van der Zeil. I have several tour guides for travel in Europe, Spain, and France. In addition, I also have a coffee machine and a picture of my son to refresh myself.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a couple papers related the electrical properties and applications of graphene device and circuits. Graphene is a new carbon-based material, which consists of carbon atoms arranged in a chicken wire-like structure and is merely on atom thick! The project I am currently involved in is to develop graphene for advanced electronics, which may eventually be used in wireless communication devices.

What has been your favorite project?

My favorite project, also one of the most challenging tasks, is to build an entire circuit out of an individual carbon nanotube. The project involved finding a single, isolate carbon nanotube, and fabricate a 5-stage ring-oscillator on it. Carbon nanotube is a hallow tube of rolled-up graphene sheet, and is only a couple nanometers in diameter and tens of micron long. The first challenge was to identify a suitable carbon nanotube using scanning electron microscope, which can be quite time consuming since these are tiny objects with low densities on the substrate. After locating the nanotube, several e-beam lithography and metallization steps are implemented to build CMOS-type ring oscillator circuits on the single nanotube. Different types of metals are used as the gate electrode to obtain n-type and p-type transistors in a CMOS configuration. The final circuit contains 12 transistors that are interconnected, and was able to produce a oscillation frequency close to 100 MHz, the fastest demonstration on carbon nanotube at the time. So far, carbon nanotube circuits of this level of complexity have not been produced elsewhere.

What direction do you see the industry heading in the next few years?

I can only see the microelectronics going nowhere but up.

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