Yuping Zeng, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, is collaborating on a $10.35 million research project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to establish an Energy Frontier Research Center.

Led by Shui-Qing (Fisher) Yu from the University of Arkansas, the grant will establish the Center for Manipulation of Atomic Ordering for Manufacturing Semiconductors. The center will be dedicated to investigating the formation of atomic orders in semiconductor alloys and their effects on various physical properties and will enable reliable, cost-effective, and transformative manufacturing of semiconductors, the essential material used in computers and other electronic devices.

The four-year grant is part of the Energy Department’s $540 million in research funding to universities and national laboratories focused on clean energy technologies. The goal is to create and develop low-carbon manufacturing processes that will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

This grant was awarded thanks to the multi-institutional team’s recent discovery that atoms in the alloy silicon germanium tin, a semiconducting material, have a regular and predictable arrangement of atoms known as short-range order. This discovery led to the hypothesis that material properties in semiconductor alloys could be designed and fabricated by manipulating the order of atoms.

Zeng is the leader of Thrust 2, whose objective is to synthesize short-range order germanium tin of high enough purity so that its intrinsic properties can be measured. The group will use molecular beam epitaxy synthesis methods to obtain germanium tin with different degrees of short-range order and to elicit control over the spatial arrangement of short-range order domains.

Additional collaborating institutions include Arizona State University, George Washington University, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, Dartmouth College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and Sandia National Laboratories.