Frontiers in device engineering: Synthesis for non-intuitive design

A.F.J. Levi

Electrical Engineering Dept, University of Southern California

Today, nano-science provides an overwhelmingly large number of experimentally accessible ways to configure the spatial position of atoms, molecules, and other nanoscale components to form devices. The challenge is to find the best, most practical, configuration that yields a useful device function. In the presence of what will typically be an enormous non-convex search space, it is reasonable to assume that traditional ad-hoc design methods will miss many possible solutions. One approach to solving this difficult problem is to employ machine-based searches of configuration space that discover user-defined objective functions. Such an optimal design methodology aims to identify the best broken-symmetry spatial configuration of metal, semiconductor, and dielectric that produce a desired response. Hence, by harnessing a combination of modern compute power, adaptive algorithms, and realistic multi-physics models, it should be possible to seek robust, manufacturable designs that meet previously unobtainable system specifications.

In this talk I will discuss some of our experience creating electronic and photonic components using optimal design methods we have developed and provide a vision of what this frontier in device engineering might lead to.