A Warm Reception for Alum Pinyen Lin

Mary Cowman, associate provost for programs, planning and development and a professor of biochemistry, remembers one former student with particular fondness. “Pinyen Lin personifies the Poly mission,” she said. “He came to America with intelligence and ambition. He studied hard, and he was dedicated to excellence. He used his education to achieve a remarkable record in the integrated-circuit industry, with more than 70 patents. Now that’s inventive!”

Cowman arranged for Lin, now the deputy director of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and an official of the Global 450mm Consortium (G450C), to speak to current students and faculty members about the future of his industry. "Poly provides students a solid foundation so that they are better prepared for the real world," Lin said of the benefits of a Poly education.

During the well-attended lecture, held late last December at the Jacobs Academic Building, Lin explained that the production of integrated circuits (IC) has grown exponentially over the last few decades and that micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS)--sensors and actuators produced by the similar microfabrication techniques--have become increasingly popular since the early 1990s. MEMS have added an entirely new dimension to the industry by enabling optical, mechanical, chemical, and even medical functions into electronic devices.

In recent years, Lin said, the IC sector has begun preparing for the thrilling next generation of silicon processing--450mm wafers. This year several leading semiconductor companies, including TSMC, Intel, Samsung, IBM, and Globalfoundries, collaborated with the State University of New York at Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering to form the G450C, which is working to integrate 450mm wafer tools and processing capabilities throughout the industry in a smooth and efficient manner. Upgrading to 450mm wafers, which have more surface area than those currently in use, would allow companies to produce more chips from each wafer, thereby lowering costs substantially.

"The experience at Poly allowed me to pursue and explore countless opportunities that have contributed positively to my professional work," Lin said of his time at the Institute and beyond.

Lin’s audience was impressed and excited, particularly by the slides of the G450C’s gleaming new $300-million facility in Albany, and Cowman found his visit to be exceptionally gratifying.

“One great thing about teaching in a university is the chance to work with students who become your friends,” she said. “It has been wonderful to keep in touch with Pinyen and his family over the last 25 years.” She concluded, however, “It is especially nice to be able to bring him back here to inspire new students to be just as successful!”