Gov. Mike Rounds announces cooperative agreement with leading nanotechnology company

Gov. Mike Rounds announces cooperative agreement with leading nanotechnology company South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds announced Thursday, March 24, a cooperative agreement involving Zyvex Corp. of Richardson, TX, the state of South Dakota and Rapid City economic development efforts to designate the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology as the exclusive provider of integrated circuit (IC) failure analysis services to the semi-conductor industry.

The agreement between the world's leading supplier of molecular nanotechnology tools, products and services and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT) will help bring new high-tech research, development and commercialization opportunities to the state.

"I am very proud that Zyvex, and more specifically Mr. Jim Von Ehr, has put his confidence in the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology for this cutting-edge technological service," Gov. Rounds said. "Zyvex could have chosen any site in the world, but they chose South Dakota because of our people and our ability to work as a team."

Under the agreement, Zyvex will outsource IC Probing testing services to the

Center for Accelerated Applications at the Nanoscale (CAAN), located on the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology campus in Rapid City. The Center is one of four research centers created last year by Gov. Rounds' 2010 Initiative. One of the goals of the initiative is to strengthen university research and its commercial applications in South Dakota.

"We are extremely excited to partner with the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology," said James Von Ehr, founder and chairman of Zyvex Corp. "Nanotechnology has been called 'the next industrial revolution' because of its potential to transform manufacturing into a high-margin, environmentally clean industry with the economics and versatility of software.

"South Dakota has made a rare commitment to foster not just academic research, but real commercialization of this field," Von Ehr added. "Investing in research is valuable to society at large, but investing in commercialization, with the jobs that will be created, will have a greater economic payback for the region that hosts those new companies."

The agreement between the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Zyvex involves the purchase of highly specialized equipment from Zyvex. The equipment measures structures smaller than 10 nanometers. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. As a comparison, a human hair's diameter measures about 100,000 nanometers.

The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology will be the first university to have this type of fully integrated system installed and operational. The probing system will allow the university to utilize the most advanced integrated system developed for IC probing and nanomanipulation.

Electrical characterization of integrated circuits is an integral component of the fabrication and design loop. As high magnification scanning beam microscopes are needed to keep up with the decreasing size scale of IC technology, electrical characterization using probing systems that are specifically designed and optimized for operation in these microscopes is needed.

The need to probe sub-100 nanometer features is

relatively new to the semiconductor industry. The Zyvex system, part of their NanoWorks¨ product line, is capable of easily landing

four NanoEffectorTM probes within a 125 x 125 nanometer area with better than 5 nanometer resolution.

"The semiconductor industry just keeps making things smaller and smaller," said CAAN Director Dr. Shawn Decker. "Until Zyvex developed the equipment, the ability to test integrated circuits at this level did not exist." Decker added, "Along with providing the highest level of IC probing service to current Zyvex customers, my job will be to actively provide IC Probing services for customers in the semi-conductor industry from all over the world. We will soon be open for business here in South Dakota to provide integrated circuit failure analysis at the nanoscale that is not commercially available anywhere else. We are honored and excited to be working with Zyvex on this and other nano level initiatives!"

With data collected from individual on-chip transistors using the Zyvex Nano-manipulator/prober, IC design engineers can feed actual device data into design models to improve modeling accuracy.

Zyvex NanoWorks Products comprise flexible, cost-effective, modular tools that promote interchangeability of sample/structural carriers. Combining these with interchangeable NanoEffector tools provides a wide array

of experimental options-whether the aim is to study meso, micro, nano or molecular based structures.

"Acquiring this equipment and providing product testing services to the private sector will help create a national reputation for this new research and development center at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology," said Harvey Jewett, President of the S.D. Board of Regents. "It will also provide a useful research environment for the university's newly approved Ph.D. program in nanoscience and nanoengineering."

Rapid City Mayor Jim Shaw agreed. "We have always believed that the university is a cornerstone to developing a technology-based economic development future for our community, region and state," Mayor Shaw said. "Our economic development community has been preparing programs and resources for many years now, like the new business incubator at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology campus. We are prepared and poised to participate in this bright future."

Rounds announced that the state has provided a $250,000 grant to help the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and CAAN acquire the equipment. Additional funds were provided through a loan from the Rapid Fund.

, a local economic development revolving loan fund," said Rapid City Area Economic Development President Bob DeMersseman. "This opportunity between Zyvex and the university will help all of us leverage the leadership Gov. Rounds has provided through the 2010 Initiative."

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