Professor earns Innovation Award
Andrea Vale | Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Notre Dame engineering professor Gary Bernstein was recently awarded the first-ever Master of Innovation Award from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and Forbes, Inc. for his development of quilt packaging technology.
Bernstein, who works as the Frank Freimenn professor of electrical engineering and associate director of the Center for Nanoscience and Technology at Notre Dame, said he and his colleagues began developing quilt packaging technology in 2001 by working with integrated circuits, small computer chips that facilitate the function of cell phones, refrigerators and countless other devices that use electronics.
“It would be as if you wanted one cell phone to talk to another cell phone so you had a link between them, but you knew that link was slow,” Bernstein said. “So that information would go between those two things slower than you’d like them to.”
Bernstein said he noticed the paths through which integrated circuits send electrical signals was less than ideal and responded by developing quilt packaging, which he said eliminates the space between integrated circuits and thus rapidly hastens the pace at which circuits can communicate with each other.
“Myself, together with my colleagues, came up with this new idea that I call ‘quilt packaging,’ because it’s like a quilt,” Bernstein said. “We want to take the chips in the packages, get rid of the packages, push them next to each other and put little tiny pieces of metal that stitch them together at their edges. Then you can form an array or quilt of multiple chips that communicate with each other much better because they don’t have to go out of the package and into another package.
“That’s not done. It’s just not done. It’s a new concept. There are elements of it that are done but not in the way that I’ve described it.”
According to the Notre Dame press release, Bernstein received the award at the “Forbes Reinventing America: The Innovation Summit” in Indianapolis on Nov. 13. Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith presented him with the award before Bernstein went on to make his speech.
Quilt packaging technology is currently in the process of being commercialized by Innovation Park at Notre Dame, with the University owning the rights, according to the press release. Four patents have already been issued, with a fifth in the works, while the technology is being licensed and incorporated.
“It [was] incorporated in 2009, so it’s actually five years old,” Bernstein said. “We’re doing quite well, getting a lot of traction and have working relationships with several major companies. We just sold our first commercial license for a product that will come out in the next couple years.
“It takes a while to develop new integrated circuits, so the fact that a product is licensed and should be coming out in a couple years is really exciting.”