Robert Baumann, Ph.D., Fellow, IEEE

Rob at 2 years old

Circa 1964, fascinated by “gizmo box” created by his father – flashing lights, and various dials, push-buttons, bells, and buzzers were Robert’s first exposure to engineering!

Robert’s interest in science started early, building various optics and laser projects described in back-issues of Scientific American’s “Amateur Scientist.” Then, catalyzed by the sounds from an ARP Odyssey synthesizer in his junior high school’s music department, he got into designing and building a variety of analog and digital circuits for sound synthesis and modulation.

Robert graduated with a B.A. in Physics (‘84) from Bowdoin College and a Ph.D. in ECE from Rice University (‘90) optimizing thin-film ferroelectric materials on silicon for electro-optic applications. He joined Texas Instruments (TI) in 1989 focused on improving DRAM dielectric reliability and soft error rate (SER) performance. He proposed cosmic ray upsets as the dominant source of SER (NOT alpha-particles as commonly assumed at the time) and demonstrated that boron-10, ubiquitous in semiconductor processes, was a dominant cause of IC failures. He developed mitigation employed across TI, and later, throughout most of the semiconductor industry, enabling ten-fold reductions in IC failure rates.

In the 1990s he moved to TI Japan, solving DRAM and CPU reliability challenges, packaging technology issues, served as liaison between international teams, and assisted in the establishment of TI’s wafer-level reliability controls. While in Japan he also created an advanced failure analysis group providing critical root-cause analyses for high-profile production-stop issues.  Robert returned to Dallas in the late 90s to create TI’s corporate radiation effects program. He developed and released the industry’s first web-based SER calculator, currently supporting more than a dozen technology nodes, providing accurate failure rate estimates for TI products. Robert worked with packaging teams to establish and control the ultra-low alpha (ULA) flows and characterization of production materials using large-area alpha-particle counting and neutron activation analyses.

Chosen to co-lead the Semiconductor Industry Association’s expert panel on ITAR, Robert was directly responsible for negotiating fundamental changes to the U.S. ITAR radiation specifications that eliminated the risk of inadvertent capture of commercial parts as defense articles, saving the U.S. industry billions of dollars.  He also led a group of experts and was the primary author of the first commercial industry standard for radiation characterization in the terrestrial environment (the JEDEC JESD89,89A). In 2012 Robert joined TI’s High Reliability (Aerospace) group as Chief Technologist where he helped define development strategies, improve characterization capabilities, product radiation reports, and guided design, test, process, and system engineering teams for the development of successful space products.

Robert retired from TI in 2018 to start a new venture, Radiosity Solutions LLC, focused on providing consultation services solving radiation effects and reliability challenges for a variety of customers.  He was also an Adjunct Research Professor at Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Lyle Engineering School researching wide-band gap device reliability and radiation effects for 4 years. In Fall of 2022 Robert joined the Univesity of Texas at Dallas (UTD) as a research scientist in the Materials Science Department focused on creating the radiation effects and reliability characterization and modeling laboratory at the new Center for Harsh Environment Semiconductors and Systems (CHESS). 

Rob in Rice University Semiconductor Lab

In Rice’s semiconductor process lab, setting up yet another ferroelectric thin-film sputtering run.