UCSB Engineering

April 20, 2001

Walsin Lihwa Forms $10 Million Electronics and Photonics Research Alliance With College of Engineering

Santa Barbara, Calif.--Walsin Lihwa Corp., a leading cable and wire company in Taiwan, has formed a $10 million five-year research alliance with the University of California at Santa Barbara to establish the Walsin Lihwa Electronics and Photonics Center on the UCSB campus in conjunction with the College of Engineering.

The $10 million alliance includes 7.3 million to support the specific research projects of the Walsin Lihwa Electronics and Photonics Center. Three projects already proposed and formulated by UCSB Engineering faculty will form the initial focus of the Center's research agenda.

The remaining $2.7 million will be a gift to support fellowships for graduate students and to purchase equipment for research.

UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang and Dean of the College of Engineering Matthew Tirrell participated in the formal signing of the research alliance at ceremonies held in the Sherwood Hotel in Taipei on April 16.

Chancellor Yang said, "Graduate students are the best vehicle for technology transfer. Through them ideas and skills go from the university to the workplace; and, best of all, the transfer is not a one-time occurrence but an on-going process. Walsin Lihwa is wise in its choice freely to support graduate engineering education at UCSB. We are very grateful to have an alliance with Walsin Lihwa that supports both of UCSB's enterprises as an educational and as a research institution."

Yu-Lon Chiao, Chairman of the Walsin Lihwa Group, the consortium of business enterprises that includes Walsin Lihwa Corp., said, "This research alliance with UCSB represents a significant step in our transformation into a corporation with a global scope. We aim to provide ever more sophisticated communications technologies to the global marketplace, and it is fitting that we now have a strong link to a premier West Coast U.S. research university with worldclass expertise in the making of electronic and photonic materials and devices. Both of the recent Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and in Physics awarded to UCSB faculty attest to the University's excellence in materials research."

Dean Tirrell, explaining the governance structure of the Walsin Lihwa Electronics and Photonics Center said, "We think we have an exemplary arrangement to further intellectually exciting and potentially commercially viable research.

"The Walsin Lihwa Center will engage initially in three research projects. The superb engineering faculty heading those three projects--Umesh Mishra, John Bowers, and Mark Rodwell--will make up an executive committee, and I am pleased that Umesh has been selected and has agreed to be the founding Director. Our executive committee members along with an equal number of representatives from Walsin Lihwa will make up the Center's steering committee, which will decide what new research to undertake over the next five years."

Also under this alliance, Walsin Lihwa will provide research grants for graduate students at UCSB over a five-year period. In addition, the company will be funding a Walsin Fellowship program, which will support two Walsin Fellows in perpetuity.

I-Lin Cheng, President and Chief Technology Officer of Walsin Lihwa Corp., noted, "We estimate to invest around $50 million to set up a research and development facility in the Santa Barbara area. We look forward to offering opportunities for internships to UCSB graduate students, especially the Walsin Fellows, and for fulltime employment to graduates. Our California facility should enable us to engage fully in this mutually beneficial research alliance with UCSB, and at the same time serve as a pilot production site for Walsin Lihwa's multiplexing products and photonic key components."

All three of the first research projects under the auspices of the Walsin Lihwa Center focus on the problem of how to manage better and faster the information in the form of light particles or photons that travel on fiber optic cables.

Mishra and Rodwell offer electronics approaches to the problem--i.e., faster transistors. Bowers focuses on an all optical approach. He in effect proposes eliminating the translation in an optoelectronic network of photon-encoded information into electron-encoded information. Today optical fibers act like superhighways for the flow of photon-encoded information which is switched for local use electronically.

To manage the projected vast increases in signal along the light pipes of the not-too-distant future, Mishra and Rodwell are trying to make integrated electronic circuits or transistors faster. According to Mishra, "What Mark [Rodwell] is doing is very likely going to lead to the ultimate technology once it is fully developed. What I am doing is more likely to achieve high speeds sooner. So I envision my research group's fast-transistor technology as an interim solution to a problem that will ultimately be solved by Mark's research approach."

Note: Dean Tirrell can be reached at 805-893-3141.


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Tony Rairden
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