There are no flags or balloons in Bram Nauta’s office, on the second floor of Carré. What catches the eye: behind a row of mobile phones – from old Nokia to modern smartphones – there is a glass panel with a depicted circuit with an LED light. It was said better: the circle. A gift from his colleagues in integrated circuit design in honor of a Stephen Award.
Great idea in the swimming pool
The professor soon descends into a brief lecture on the world-famous Nauta circuit, which has been the basis of technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth and can still be found in many pockets in 2023. “The circuit has stood the test of time,” Nauta says. “It’s in The end is a completely straight path forward: two entrances on the left, two exits on the right, and four in between Inverters. Each wire goes to an input or output. Ideally, you want to see two things in the circuit: a lot of gain and a lot of speed. When a normal circuit goes crazy quickly, this happens something everything. It turned out to be a workhorse and a luxury horse.
“I haven’t discovered any new matter or a black hole. I’m actually just tinkering.”
Much has been said and written about the eureka moment that led to the famous ring, especially since Naota was announced as one of this year’s Steven Award winners. Nota got stuck into his doctoral research and wrote something as complex as twenty Inverters… He decided to go swimming in the indoor pool on campus and during his swimming laps he suddenly thought of how to design this complex mixture into a compact circuit. He did this on a piece of newspaper he borrowed from the rescuer. Speaking of the newspaper, Naota still remembers the title of the article in UT Nieuws (the newspaper that preceded U-Today). It said “Great Pool Idea,” which I thought was a good idea.
This is how the translation between carpentry and chip design is done in a short time. “Working with your hands is working with your head.” Chip design is a meticulous job, and you can’t afford to make mistakes. Chip design is similar to programming, the main difference is that the error during programming can be resolved in no time. “If you make a mistake in chip design, you could lose a year of work,” Naota says. “So you have to be precise, creative and innovative enough if you want to be at the forefront in this field. This is a very fine line to balance on.
But there are several explanations for the recent success. It is also present in the people around him. “Within the department we have the unwritten rule We don’t bother each other, but we help when we can. You often see many in other departments PIs (Principal investigators, editor), they will not work together. Elsewhere, it is unthinkable for someone to pass on the benefit they have received to a colleague. Here, projects are passed on internally, outside the fellowship. Naota says finding the right people is crucial. I’ve always been told I have a nose for it. You often see it in heads, even in the lecture hall. Someone who doesn’t stare aimlessly into space and nod yes, but challenges you and asks questions. Someone wants it To understand.’
However, 2023 is a year in which a lot came together for the professor: Nota celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Integrated Circuit Design Department and received the Dutch Innovation Award Last May (“A prize that seems to have been designed especially for me”), and a “Dutch Nobel Prize” in the form of the Stephen Prize… “And I’m also becoming a grandfather,” he hastens to say. “Yes, it’s been a good year.”
“It feels like I’m redundant, even though I’m still full of ideas.”
When asked what he would do with Steven’s €1.5m bonus, Naota replied To Volkskrant: “Make”. “It doesn’t mean I have to recruit more PhD students to start a new project. I currently have 24 PhD positions open; in five years, the last phase will start, and when it’s over in four years, I’ll retire. With the bonus, he wants to invest in the lab’s infrastructure And defining the features of its field and creating more space for research that does not produce direct results something Should lead. “There are some things – basic things – that I don’t quite understand yet. I want to spend some time on it, to understand it better. Even if it’s not useful now, it might be useful in ten years.”
At the same time, he no longer needed anything; Naota has raised more research money than he can spend. “It’s not that I wake up thinking, ‘I have to make money.’ That incentive is no longer there, Anna He should nothing. On the one hand, this is a reassuring thought. It feels like I’m redundant, even though I’m still full of ideas. Moreover, the next generation must learn. I want to help them with that.
Chip Tech Twenty
This year it “exploded” again Chip Tech Twenty, a collaboration between companies and scientists grouped around the Naota division. The professor will also be full of that. Nota sees a modest role for himself within the group, but the plans are big. “Twente should be the hotspot within Europe for chip design, and that is the goal. Everyone knows ASML as a center for the semiconductor industry. Twente should be a center for chip design.
“I had offers from other universities. But I preferred to stay somewhere where I could build something myself.
One of his motivations is his love for the area where the Hengelo native grew up. “This certainly plays a role. There was only one small chip design company in Twente, Proco, which was located in Wierselo. This does not make it easy to retain talent. 25 years ago, Twente was completely unknown in this field, but Now nine companies have established themselves within cycling distance of UT that specialize in chip design. If you grow the industry, you give people a reason to stay.
According to Nauta, it is not clear that an initiative like ChipTech Twente is taking off now. “Ann Will Lucas (former Kenespark District Manager, editor) started this when she noticed this activity.” Nauta never felt the “pull” inside UT. “We also tried to put a chipset on the map within UT, but we didn’t get any response. It was just one department — a good department — with several companies around it. And that’s in microelectronics, of course not nano. Then the focus started shifting to MedTech.” But it’s nice that UT is still putting chips on the agenda. I hope this will boost the area further and have more alumni staying here.
In some ways, 2023 feels like the year Nota made his mark. Success and recognition in any form, despite the forces that worked against him. So on your own strength. “I’ve had offers from other universities, sure. And also from Silicon Valley. But I’d rather stay somewhere where I can build something myself rather than ride on someone else’s success at Stanford.”
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