Email Print Share

News Release 13-088

NSF and SRC to Fund Research to Create Failure-Resistant Systems and Circuits for Tomorrow’s Computing Applications

$6 Million will support 29 researchers at 18 U.S. universities

Diagram showing the cycle of circuits breaking and being repaired

Failure Resistant Systems

May 21, 2013

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Leaders of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the world's leading university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies, today announced 18 new projects funded through a joint initiative to address research challenges in the design of failure-resistant circuits and systems.

The three-year, $6 million collaborative program will support research being conducted by 29 faculty members at 18 U.S. universities. Their work focuses on a variety of aspects of resilient circuit and system design for future computing applications.

Miniaturized electronics form parts of today's pervasive and increasingly efficient and complex electronic systems. Common examples include communication devices such as cell-phones and personal digital assistants (so-called PDA's), aircraft flight controls, autonomous vehicles, sophisticated weapon systems and tiny medical devices inside or outside of the human body, such as pacemakers and heart monitors.

The accurate functioning of these systems is often a matter of life and death. A small malfunction in a pacemaker could threaten the life of a patient; unexpected failures in flight control circuitry or in an autonomous vehicle may result in a crash.

A host of reasons could cause highly sensitive, automated mechanical devices to deviate from desired behavior or functionalities. These include design imperfections, faults resulting from uncontrolled physical phenomena, manufacturing variations, aging over time and other external disturbances, which even may include tampering or malicious design.

By funding fundamental research in the design of electronic chips, this joint NSF/SRC program on Failure Resistant Systems aims to ensure that at the outset systems are designed in such a way that they are self-corrective or self-healing with minimal or no external intervention during the entire life of its operation.

"As devices become smaller and approach fundamental limits, new design methodologies will be required to account for the wide variability which arises in the fabrication process" said Pramod Khargonekar, head of NSF's Directorate for Engineering. "This joint program with SRC will allow our academic researchers to address pressing problems faced by our semiconductor industry."

"New fundamental design techniques have the potential to yield major advances in the reliability of electronic systems," said Farnam Jahanian, head of NSF's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. "This program builds on more than a decade of successful partnerships with SRC and provides the academic research community a new opportunity to do ground-breaking, long-term, basic research."

"This partnership of government, industry and academia helps our universities address critical computing challenges," said Steve Hillenius, SRC executive vice president. "This effort in resilient systems will have an effect on multiple industries and boost their competitiveness on a global scale, helping to transform market segments and translate research results into practice. Cooperative programs with NSF also help SRC deliver value to its industrial members' capabilities, while allowing universities to continue to improve their understanding of the needs of the semiconductor industry."

Funding will support researchers at the following universities: the University of Texas (Austin, Dallas), the University of California (Riverside, Santa Barbara), the University of Southern California, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Utah, Texas A&M University, the University of Illinois, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Rochester, Colorado State University, North Carolina State University, the University of Virginia and West Virginia University.


Media Contacts
Lisa-Joy Zgorski, NSF, (703) 292-8311, email:
Dan Francisco, Francisco Group for SRC, (916) 293-9030, email:

Program Contacts
Sankar Basu, NSF, (703) 292-7843, email:
George Haddad, NSF, (703) 292-8897, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

mail icon Get News Updates by Email 

Connect with us online
NSF website:
NSF News:
For News Media:
Awards database:

Follow us on social