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Fraunhofer IZM

Prof. Klaus-Dieter Lang retires

Prof. Klaus-Dieter Lang, Institutsleiter des Fraunhofer-Institut für Zuverlässigkeit und Mikrointegration IZM
»People say: You should leave while it’s still fun.« Prof. Lang cannot see how this applies to him, he will retire as director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM on September 30. »Applied research is always fun, and nowhere more so than in innovative microelectronics and microsystems technology.«
© Jacek Ruta

On September 30, 2021, the director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM, Prof. Klaus-Dieter Lang, will retire. He has been with the institute since its founding in 1993 and succeeded Prof. Herbert Reichl in 2010.

His colleagues know and appreciate Prof. Lang as a celebrated expert for electronics system integration and specialist for durable chip connections. Fresh from graduating in electrical engineering in the 1980s, Prof. Lang turned his attention to semiconductors, assembly and interconnect technologies, packaging, and quality assurance in his work at the Electronics department of Humboldt University. His work for his doctorate and post-doc research for his lecturership led to him winning the Humboldt Prize. After establishing the micro joining and optical interconnection technology section at SLV Hannover, he was one of the founding members of Fraunhofer IZM in 1993 and continued to shape the story of the Institute whose Director he became in 2010.

One constant thread in his strategy for Fraunhofer IZM was the steady build-up of competences and resources across the value chain of microelectronics systems, based on cutting-edge packaging technologies to pave the way for sophisticated applications. His focus was on optimized integration concepts, greater reliability, integrated sensors and actuators, and the miniaturization and adaptation of components to any product design or installation space. His efforts led to the formation of five business areas, chosen specifically to match the needs of industrial clients.

An Enterprising Academic and Academic Entrepreneur

Prof. Lang’s work was an almost archetypal expression of the Fraunhofer principle of combining scientific creativity perfectly with efficient innovation management and dependable performance. He is the prolific author and co-author of four monographs and no fewer than 430 contributions to publications on interconnect technology, packaging, microsystems engineering, and system integration, and he holds more than a dozen patents. Under his careful stewardship, Fraunhofer IZM was recognized by the German Science Council for its scientific excellence as one of the countries top research organizations in the field of electrical engineering. In his years at the helm, the operating budget of the Institute increased by more than 60 percent (from 23.1 million euros in 2010 to 37.6 million euros in 2020), and revenues from industry cooperations almost doubled (rising from 7.5 million euros in 2010 to 14.4 million in 2020 euros). This story of continued success is also reflected in the growth of the Institute’s human resources, with more than 130 new colleagues joining in the same period.

A Diplomat and Networker

The academic world has come to see Prof. Lang as a master at integration. And this applies not just to his exceptional skill at miniaturizing and integrating microelectronics structures in virtually any application; it also reflects his ability to bring together and link up researchers and scientists with partners from industry. His efforts in this arena include his role as a co-founder and long-standing spokesperson for the Center for Microsystems Technology ZEMI in Berlin-Adlershof, dedicated to pooling the region’s R&D resources in microsystems engineering.

Not content with his achievements in the regional and national scientific community, Prof. Lang was soon in great demand for his wit and expertise on the global stage: As a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of EURIPIDES (European Smart Electronic Systems), his contributions included coordinating the direction of research roadmaps influencing industrial developments in Europe and linking up the resources of R&D actors from more than 20 countries with leading research policy makers.

In recognition of his exceptional achievements in science and research, Prof. Lang was awarded the Fraunhofer medal in 2014, followed in 2017 by the William D. Ashman Achievement Award for Electronic Packaging and System Integration of the international IMAPS society. Other awards included the DVS association’s honorary ring in 2016, and the IEEE Fellowship in the field of heterointegration and microelectronics packaging in 2018. A recent crowning addition to this list of honors was the GMM Award of October 2019, the top award given out by the VDE Society for Microelectronics, Microsystems, and Precision Engineering. Prof. Lang is also a Fellow and Life Member of IMAPS.

All Silicon System Integration Dresden

The Fraunhofer Society has benefitted immensely from Prof. Lang’s unique skill at acquiring and managing major projects. It was under his stewardship that the center for 3D system integration in Saxony, the »All Silicon System Integration Dresden« (ASSID) got off to a flying start in 2010. Since these early days, the ASSID and its now 40 staff members have become a key force to be reconned with in the development and practical application of novel wafer-level packaging technologies for stacking semiconductor components on the 300 mm scale.

The ASSID was set up from the very beginning to combine research endeavors with industry-ready prototype development.

Prof. Lang won 49 million euro in financial support for establishing and getting the ASSID up and running from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Free State of Saxony, and the European Union.

The Fraunhofer IZM ASSID has profited from Prof. Lang’s personal commitment to making it a strong part of the research and industry landscape with enterprises from

Silicon Saxony and a primary driver for the »High Performance Center Functional Integration for Micro / Nanoelectronics Chemnitz«. Today’s ASSID is an independent organizational unit in its own right, integrated in the Fraunhofer model, and was lauded for its excellence in a 2013 evaluation. In 2018, the ASSID’s management processes were formally certified according to the ISO 9001 standard.

Berlin Center for Intelligent Systems on Circuit Board and Module Scale

It was due to Prof. Lang’s untiring efforts that the IZM’s campus established itself as a permanent fixture in Berlin’s research landscape. In his time, the Institute won approx.40 million in funding from the EU, the State of Berlin, and Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the Fraunhofer Society itself for the AdaptSys Innovation Center. These funds not only allowed forward-looking research into novel microelectronics applications and other technological innovations, but also directly contributed to securing more than 400 high-value jobs in the city.

This is where extremely advanced integration technologies are being pioneered on the wafer and substrate level and where methods and processes are born that make it possible for any type of product – from car seats or tools and household appliances to fabrics and clothes – can be made with cutting-edge technology to include electronics and sensors right from their initial production, instead of having to place or mount such elements at a later stage.

The end result is technologies and products that are leading the competition from their very first design. The close links between R&D and real-life applications means that researchers have direct access to a constantly growing store of product expertise and can leave their mark on trends that are reshaping entire industries.

Eyes on the Future

Prof. Lang’s commitment means that Fraunhofer IZM is one of the world’s leading research institute’s determining the key aspects of modern microelectronics:

  • New research into high-frequency system integration technologies for 5G and 6G.
  • A revolution in packaging technologies: Breaking down the boundaries between fan-out wafer and fan-out panel level packaging.
  • Chiplets and quantum technologies at the heart of future processor designs.
  • Novel integration concepts that combine biological systems and electronic elements.
  • Specially shielded packages and integration solutions for holistic hardware security.
  • Climate-positive and sustainable technologies and more resource efficiency.

In 2017, Fraunhofer IZM became part of the Research Fab Microelectronics Germany, Europe’s largest R&D collaboration in micro and nanoelectronics funded by the Ministry of Education and Research.

And there is more: On top of its sites in Berlin and Dresden, Fraunhofer IZM has come to Cottbus to pursue new high-frequency sensor technologies with leading local partners and focus on the design, testing, and characterization of integrated antennas, the co-design of chip-package antennas, and system integration solutions for miniature HF sensor systems.

Hardware start-ups have also featured prominently at Fraunhofer IZM under Prof. Lang. For the last four years, the Institute has given young and aspiring SMEs an opportunity, in the form of the »Start-A-Factory« prototyping space funded by the Senate of Berlin, to turn unique ideas into first professional prototypes, using a unique equipment and workspace infrastructure with cutting-edge technical facilities and access to a whole network of Fraunhofer IZM researchers and other partners.

On 30 September, Prof. Lang will hand over a successful and globally respect microelectronics research institute to his successor. His are indeed big shoes to fill, but his own history makes him certain that the transition will run smoothly: In 2010, he had himself taken over from a packaging pioneer of global renown, Prof. Herbert Reichl. And Prof. Lang also knows his Institute in good hands, as he is passing control over to interim director Prof. Martin Schneider-Ramelow.

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