For Electronics Class
The VTCAD browser.
Students who took last semester's EE 4214 Electronics course (semiconductor
devices and materials) used a custom web browser to access an industrial
simulation tool that is typically available only to professionals with high-performance
Using a specially designed browser interface developed by Ray Miller
(EE '97), students performed 2D and 3D simulations of semiconductor devices
using Technology CAD (TCAD) simulation tools.
"As semiconductor devices have become smaller and faster, physical
simulation has become essential for engineers involved in leading-edge semiconductor
design and manufacturing," explained Professor Alex
Huang, who taught the course. "I wanted the students to study visual
images of what was going on," he said.
The problem was that the powerful TCAD simulation tools require more
computing power and CAD experience than students typically have. The solution
was to run TCAD on Huang's server and to develop an easy-to-use interface
for the students to access.
Miller, one of the students in the class, had several years of experience
working with web technologies, and volunteered to develop the interface.
Called VTCAD, Miller's preliminary version of the browser was available
in time for the rest of the class to run simulations and study the electrical
characteristics of a P+NN+ diode. Although there were problems with server
access, the project gave most of the students a better understanding of
"This project allowed me to see firsthand the effects of parameters
on a physical device," reported Jonathan Dubovsky (EE '97). "It
is one thing to look at a theoretical model in a textbook, but it is another
to see such a model implemented on a complex level in a more lifelike simulation."