Araujo Awarded CU Distinguished Professorship

Professor Carlos Paz de Araujo

The University of Colorado Board of Regents awarded Professor Carlos Paz de Araujo the CU Distinguished Professorship designation at their November 3, 2022 meeting based on his outstanding contributions in research, teaching, service, entrepreneurship and international reputation. He was named alongside Dorothea Olkowski, a globally-ranked scholar in philosophy.

“It is very much appreciated when your university values your work and its value to society worldwide,” Araujo said.

Araujo joined the UCCS Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science in the fall of 1982 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted throughout the years to his current rank as professor. He served UCCS for 40 years with distinguished contributions, developed numerous new courses, established a Class 100 clean room for microelectronics research, and innovated and commercialized a new non-volatile ferroelectric memory. He has won numerous awards for his contributions in the commercialization of FRAM technologies and is an IEEE Fellow.

Adding value to the field of microelectronics, Professor Araujo started the Colorado Microelectronics conference in 1987, which later became the international Integrated Ferroelectrics Conference. He also founded the conference on integrated ferroelectrics in 1992 which now is merged with the annual IEEE conference on ISAF (Integrated Symposium on Application of Ferroelectrics). He is co-editor of the journal, Integrated Ferroelectrics, that he originated with the late Professor G.W. Taylor. He is an honorary professor at both Fudan University in China and Kochi University of Technology (KUT) in Japan, and an honorary member of ITE in Japan.

His impacts are impressive and well-known, as he has over 180 publications and surpassed 10,000 citations, has over 600 combined U.S. and international patents, received distinction as with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Daniel A. Noble Award for extraordinary accomplishments, published papers in the leading journals, Science and Nature, and advised numerous graduate students who went on to academic and industry successes throughout the world.

When Professor Araujo joined UCCS in 1982, UCCS was a commuter campus known for teaching undergraduate courses. He played an important role in transforming the campus from an undergraduate teaching school to an R2 research institution by establishing research laboratories, developing graduate-level courses in microelectronics, and supervising Ph.D. students. In addition, he secured funding for his research through entrepreneurial activities. Araujo distinguished himself in the field in two ways – by his research ideas that transformed memory architectures and his passion for commercialization.

His work in ferroelectrics started in 1984, when an investor was looking to commercialize non-volatile memory technology to overcome the limitations of the conventional floating gate memory technology. Professor Araujo worked tirelessly to develop thin film ferroelectrics, including lead titanate zirconate (PZT), so that it could be integrated with silicon-based technologies to ultimately develop ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM).

His coauthored paper with Prof. Jim Scott on “Ferroelectric Memories,” published in the journal Science in 1989, has over 3,000 citations, a top-cited paper. He co-founded Ramtron Corporation, which went public in 1992, was later acquired by Cyprus Semiconductor Corporation in 2012, and recently, acquired by Infineon Technologies. After Ramtron went public, Araujo formed his own company, Symetrix Corporation. Now moving into data and encryption, he is changing the future again.

“Since that was outside my field, I gave scholarships to a team of students that created the basis to implement some of my ideas. Today, they are the true innovators and the company formed around them, Algemetric, is partially owned by the CU foundation via a stock donation. This has been a dream since the beginning of cybersecurity. The company was literally created by students and for students,” said Araujo.

However, PZT-FRAM had several problems such as limited endurance, usually referred to as fatigue, and limited memory retention. To address this, from 1991 onward, Araujo’s research was focused on improving the limitations of PZT by researching a variety of ferroelectric materials. This research resulted in the development of a new material called strontium bismuth tantalate (SBT) which, among other characteristics, was almost fatigue free and could be integrated with silicon technology. His research involved developing a thin film material fabrication process, characterization, testing, and overcoming reliability issues.

Araujo licensed SBT FRAM to 23 companies. Fulfilling his goal of research that benefits society, billions of FRAM chips are currently used in smart cards, internet of things (IoT) technologies, and microcontrollers. Professor Araujo summed up his research work very simply, saying, “I focused in making sure that engineering and science would be applied to real world problems.”

Recently, Araujo’s research efforts have been focused in developing future memory technologies based on strongly correlated electron systems that created a “quantum memory.” He has already developed new materials and holds numerous patents. He is working with ARM and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on this new memory technology and the research has supported many graduate students at UCCS.

Araujo has great passion for teaching and advising graduate students. He developed and taught a wide variety of courses from microprocessors to nano-technology devices and circuits at all levels. His initial graduate level course offerings were in the area of process and device simulation, electronics materials, and device physics. Later, he extended his course offerings to artificial neural networks, security, internet of things (IoT) technology, and nano technology. His graduate students appreciate his depth of knowledge, compassionate nature, enthusiasm, and creativity in commercializing knowledge.

“The students are the reason that we are here,” Araujo said. “This goes beyond teaching a subject out of a book. For engineering, we must bring things down to making things. But we must educate beyond engineering. We must teach everything from philosophy to writing well. We must educate the mind and the heart too. It is a great time to be young and have a burning desire to learn. It is also a time of great difficulty for young men and women to navigate a career path, raise a family and have a good life. Education is now more than ever, the way towards the future.”

The Distinguished Professor title is the highest honor that the University of Colorado confers to tenured faculty members and recognize outstanding contributions in scholarly work; promotion of learning and student knowledge and skills, and service to the profession, CU, and/or affiliate institutions.

About the College of Engineering and Applied Science

The College of Engineering and Applied Science enrolls more than 1,700 students and offers 24 engineering and computer science degrees, ranging from bachelor to doctoral. The college is a Department of Homeland Security/National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense and works closely with the National Cybersecurity Center and with more than 250 aerospace and defense, information technology, cybersecurity and engineering organizations in the Pikes Peak region. Learn more about the College of Engineering and Applied Science at UCCS.