UA-Based Center for Environmentally Friendly Semiconductor Manufacturing Honors UCLA Researcher

Simon Karecki Award recognizes Kun-Chieh “Jack” Chen for developing cleaner etching techniques.

The University of Arizona-based SRC Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing, or ERC, each year honors a student researcher from its more than 12 participating universities with the Simon Karecki Award, named for an ERC student researcher at MIT who died in 2001.

The ERC presented the 2015 Simon Karecki Award to Kun-Chieh “Jack” Chen a doctoral student in chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, on April 1 during its annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona. 

“Educating students is the primary goal of the center; therefore, we should use every opportunity to recognize and highlight the accomplishments of our students,” said Farhang Shadman, UA Regents’ Professor in chemical and environmental engineering and the center’s founding director. 

Chen investigates alternative, nontoxic chemical etching processes for making silicon chips without perfluoro compounds, the most widely used chemicals in semiconductor manufacturing. He works with Jane P. Chang, the UCLA William F. Seyer chair in materials electrochemistry, who was one of three dozen ERC researchers presenting their work to nearly 80 university and industry scientists at the annual meeting.

The Simon Karecki Fellowship Fund is administered by the ERC and the SRC Education Alliance, a subsidiary of the Semiconductor Research Corp., the world’s leading university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies.

Inspiring Environmental Engineers

Anna and Richard Karecki created the fund to honor the memory of their son and encourage outstanding young students in environmental engineering. The Kareckis have attended the ERC annual meeting and personally presented the Simon Karecki Award for the last 14 years.

“Anna and Richard have long been dedicated to this program and the research and the talent it supports,” said Reed Content, chair of the ERC executive advisory board committee and director of environmental health and safety policy at Global Foundries Inc., in introducing them at the awards ceremony. “They consider all the recipients of this award part of their family, and always welcome opportunities to engage with those who are as passionate about what they do as was Simon.”

Jack Chen is the first student from UCLA to receive the Simon Karecki Award. Previous recipients have included several from the University of Arizona and others from Stanford, MIT and Cornell. 

Since its founding in 1996, the ERC has involved nearly 500 graduate and undergraduate student researchers from 13 academic disciplines at 21 universities.

Its member companies include Intel Corp., Global Foundries Inc., IBM Corp., Texas Instruments, Applied Materials, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Samsung Electronics Co., among others. Several of the chemical processes developed by ERC researchers are now used by major manufacturers, and more than 80 percent of ERC graduates go on to work in the semiconductor industry.


Top picture, from left: Simon Karecki Advisory Board member Duane Boning looks on as Kun-Chieh “Jack” Chen receives the 2015 Simon Karecki Award from Anna and Richard Karecki.