IEEE Medal of Honor Goes to Transistor Pioneer Chenming Hu

IEEE Life Fellow Chenming Hu
Photo: Chenming Hu

By: Joanna Goodrich

THE INSTITUTE IEEE Life Fellow Chenming Hu will receive this year’s IEEE Medal of Honor “for a distinguished career of developing and putting into practice semiconductor models, particularly 3D device structures, that have helped keep Moore’s Law going over many decades.”

Hu has been called the Father of the 3D Transistor due to his development of the Fin Field Effect Transistor in 1999. Intel, the first company to implement FinFETs in its products, called the invention the most radical shift in semiconductor technology in more than 50 years.

Hu received the 2014 U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation “for pioneering innovations in microelectronics including reliability technologies, the first industry-standard model for circuit design, and the first 3D transistors—which radically advanced semiconductor technology.”

He was awarded the 2009 IEEE Nishizawa Medal “for achievements critical to producing smaller yet more reliable and higher-performance integrated circuits.”

Hu has been a professor of engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, since 1976. He is a member of the board of semiconductor manufacturers Ambarella and Inphi.

He was chair of Friends of Children with Special Needs, a nonprofit in Fremont, Calif., that supports developmentally delayed children and adults, and also was a chair of the East Bay Chinese School in Oakland, Calif., where children and adults learn Mandarin.

He is also the founding chair of Celestry Design Technologies, creator of analysis programs for the semiconductor industry. Celestry was acquired in 2002 by Cadence.

From 2001 to 2004 he was chief technology officer at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world’s largest IC manufacturing company, based in Hsinchu.

Hu has authored five books, written 900 research papers and holds more than 100 U.S. patents.

Hu received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1968 from the National Taiwan University, in Taipei. He received a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from UC Berkeley in 1970 and 1973, respectively.

The IEEE Foundation sponsors the IEEE Medal of Honor.

The award is scheduled to be presented at the annual IEEE Honors Ceremony during the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit, to be held on 15 May at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver.

This article appears in the March 2020 print issue as “Medal of Honor Goes to Transistor Pioneer.”

This article originally appeared in IEEE Spectrum on 3 March 2020.