Robert, circa 1964, Paris, fascinated by “gizmo box” created by his father – the flashing lights, buzzer, and various dials and push-buttons were Robert’s first exposure to engineering!
Robert C. Baumann, Ph.D., IEEE Fellow
Robert’s interest in science started early – in high school he built lasers and optics projects described in the Scientific American’s “Amateur Scientist”, and later, catalyzed by the sounds from a then revolutionary ARP Odyssey synthesizer newly arrived in his school’s music department, he designed a variety of circuits for synthesizing sounds.
He graduated with a B.A. in Physics (cum laude, ‘84) from Bowdoin College where he developed a thin-film microcalorimeter for measuring tiny changes in heat capacity in materials undergoing phase transitions. Robert earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Rice University (‘90) optimizing a custom magnetron-sputtering system to creating thin-film ferroelectrics on silicon for electro-optic applications.
Robert joined the Texas Instruments (TI) DRAM team in 1989 where he worked closely with process and design engineers to reduce DRAM gate dielectric issues and soft error rate (SER) sensitivity. First at TI to proposed cosmic ray upsets as the dominant source of SER (NOT alpha particles as commonly assumed) and demonstrated that boron-10, ubiquitous in semiconductor processes, was a dominant SER risk in digital electronics. He developed mitigation schemes that were employed across TI, and later, throughout most of the semiconductor industry, enabling 10x reductions in SER.
From 1993 he worked at the TI Japan Mihomura fab where he helped solve DRAM and CPU degradation issues, SER, and package reliability marginalities. He served as technical liaison between international teams and assisted in the establishment of TI’s wafer-level reliability controls. In 1995, Robert transferred to Tsukuba R&D Center, where he created an advanced failure analysis group providing critical analyses for solving high-profile production-stop issues in record time.
Robert returned to Dallas in 1998 leading TI’s corporate radiation effects reliability program. In 1999 he released the first web-based SER calculator, which currently supports a dozen technology nodes (350nm – 16nm) and is used extensively to determine accurate failure rates in TI digital products. Robert also worked with packaging teams to help establish and control the ultra-low alpha (ULA) packaging flows.
Chosen by the Semiconductor Industry Association, Robert co-led an expert panel responsible for convincing U.S. Government agencies ITAR needed to be changed to protect U.S. technologies from being inadvertently export-controlled. After 7 years and numerous negotiations, the work led directly to ITAR changes that effectively eliminated the risk of inadvertent capture of commercial parts, saving the U.S. industry billions of dollars.
Robert also led a group of experts and was a primary author of the first industry standard for radiation characterization in the terrestrial environment (JEDEC JESD89 and the JESD89A), for which he was awarded the 2006 JEDEC Chairman’s Award. He also helped develop the JESD-221, the JEDEC test standard on alpha particle metrology.
In 2012 Robert joined TI’s High Reliability (Aerospace) group as Chief Technologist where he improved characterization methods, product radiation reports, and guided design, test, process, and system engineering teams during the development of several successful space power products. He initiated and led teams that developed a radiation-hardened FRAM, an MCU (ARM M0+ w FRAM), and a modified process that expanded the safe operating voltage of power products by 200%.
Circa 1986, Rice University semiconductor lab setting up another ferroelectric thin-film sputtering run on custom-built equipment.
After 29 years of service, Robert retired from TI in May 2018 to start a new venture, Radiosity Solutions LLC, providing technical consultation to solving reliability and radiation effects challenges, optimizing the value of radiation test campaigns, and training to management and engineering teams. He is also working as a visiting assistant R&D professor at Southern Methodist University. He has co-authored/presented more than 90 papers, two book chapters, TI’s Radiation Handbook, and is the inventor of fifteen U.S. patents. Robert is an IEEE Fellow and TI Fellow (emeritus).
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