The Institute - December 2021 - 59

saves mobile devices 15 percent more
power, according to Tran.
Escape from Vietnam
After the fall of Saigon to the North
Vietnamese, Tran's father, who was
part of the South Vietnamese military,
was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Her mother, fearing for the family's
safety, decided to leave the country.
It took three attempts for Tran, her
mother, and her brothers to successfully
leave Vietnam. Like thousands of
other Vietnamese people fleeing the
war, the family boarded a boat.
After surviving attacks by Thai
pirates as well as dangerous thunderstorms,
they reached Thailand. They
lived in a refugee camp in the city of
Songkhla for a year. With help from an
aunt who lived in the United States, the
family secured entry to the country.
Tran aspired to be an artist, but
her family couldn't afford to pay for
tuition. She decided to study engineering
instead because she was able to get
a full scholarship.
She earned a bachelor's degree
in EE from the University of Washington
in Seattle and in 1993 joined
Motorola in Austin, Texas. She
worked on process technology for
microprocessors and static RAM at
Motorola's MOS 11 factory.
After three and a half years there,
though, she decided she wanted to
pursue a position that enabled her to
travel and learn about other cultures.
" My guiding principle has always
been not how much money I make, or
the accolades that you get in life, but to
live a full life, " she says.
She joined Siemens' international
transfer management team in 1996,
in East Fishkill, N.Y. The team was
tasked with leading a 200mm factory
startup for ProMOS Technologies
in Taiwan, a joint venture between
Siemens and integrated circuit manufacturer
Mosel Vitelic, which was
based in California.
The startup gave her " a taste of
the excitement and the adrenaline
rush of starting something new and
applying my experience to new situations, "
Tran says.
In 1997 she and her first manager
at Motorola founded semiconductor
manufacturer WaferTech. The Camas,
Wash., company was the first fabrication
plant in the United States that
exclusively manufactured semiconductors.
It was created by ADI, Altera,
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing,
and Integrated Silicon Solution.
Tran left after two years and joined
Infineon in Richmond, Va., as a principal
engineer. In 2004 she was relocated
to the company's research facility in
Dresden, Germany, to help develop
new DRAM technology.
She moved back to the United
States in 2008 and began working at
Micron as the senior process integration
engineer. She rose through the
ranks as a technical leader for multiple
DRAM programs and was promoted
in 2019 to vice president of DRAM
process integration.
" Before joining Micron, I had
always admired how Micron was at the
forefront of DRAM development and
cost-effective technologies, " she says.
Developing the 1-alpha node DRAM
Tran's mission is to build Micron's
next generation of DRAM technology.
Her team collaborated with Micron's
design and product engineering
crews to take a holistic approach
when developing the process, she
says. They didn't focus only on the
design and engineering behind it;
they also took into consideration
manufacturing costs.
Making chips denser and smaller
allows manufacturers to pack more
transistors and capacitors onto a
wafer-which helps to increase the
number of bits and reduce costs.
Today's state-of-the-art DRAM
chips have a half-pitch-half the
distance between cells-of 10 to
19 nanometers. As the half-pitch has
decreased in that range, the manufacturing
process has progressed through
a series of names: 1x to 1y to 1z.
Micron makes the 1α DRAM node
by using multipatterning processes and
advanced photolithography, whereby
light is used to transfer a pattern from
an optical mask onto a wafer.
Because the 1α DRAM chip is
smaller and more efficient, Tran says,
it can be used for artificial intelligence
applications and 5G technology. AI
systems need massive storage and
computing resources, she says, and the
1α DRAM is up to the challenge.
Thanks to the chip, she says, 5G
technology users can perform more
tasks on their smartphone without
losing as much battery life. The DRAM
chip also can be used in computers,
data centers, and server farms.
" The team went all out with respect
to cutting-edge process and tooling
capability, " Tran says. " We took more
risks but also were very maniacal
about defining what mitigations are
needed to beat those risks. "
IEEE is integral
Tran, who joined IEEE more than 11
years ago, says she has the utmost
regard for the organization. She has
attended and presented at IEEE
conferences, and if she cannot attend
a conference, she sends a member of
her team.
Tran says the IEEE Xplore Digital
Library is her go-to resource for
" As a member, I try to encourage
others to join and to be active, "
she says. " I have team members and
colleagues who peer-review papers to
give back to the organization. "
" My guiding principle has always
been not how much money I make,
or the accolades that you get in
life, but to live a full life. "

The Institute - December 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Institute - December 2021

The Institute - December 2021 - 51
The Institute - December 2021 - 52
The Institute - December 2021 - 53
The Institute - December 2021 - 54
The Institute - December 2021 - 55
The Institute - December 2021 - 56
The Institute - December 2021 - 57
The Institute - December 2021 - 58
The Institute - December 2021 - 59
The Institute - December 2021 - 60
The Institute - December 2021 - 61
The Institute - December 2021 - 62
The Institute - December 2021 - 63
The Institute - December 2021 - 64
The Institute - December 2021 - 65
The Institute - December 2021 - 66