Retired KAUST SVP Jean Fréchet awarded Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering

Feb 12 2020

The National Academy of Engineering announced that the 2020 Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering will be awarded to Jean Fréchet along with Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at UC Berkeley and C. Grant Willson, Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at UT Austin, “for the invention, development, and commercialization of chemically amplified materials for micro- and nanofabrication, enabling the extreme miniaturization of microelectronic devices.” The $500,000 biennial award is given to engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society.

The Draper Prize will be presented at a gala dinner event in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.

The chemically amplified resist (CAR) materials created by Fréchet and Willson are used in lithography to form the minute structures that makeup today's semiconductor devices. These materials are now used to manufacture nearly all of the microprocessors and memory chips that enable electronic devices such as personal computers, mobile phones, and motor vehicles.

At the time of the invention of CAR materials, the semiconductor industry was approaching a limit. The existing lithography process and the available resist materials being used in the fabrication process could not form the smaller images required to continue improving devices. The use of light with shorter wavelengths were preferred to achieve higher resolution, but such light sources were very weak in output in those days. The method of chemically amplifying resist materials developed by Willson and Fréchet provided higher sensitivity, which improved production efficiency by reducing photo-irradiation time required for image formation, and enabled the production of much smaller structures.

Jean Fréchet is an expert in polymers, well known for his work on dendrimers, separation media, polymer therapeutics, and other technologies. His work has garnered over 120,000 citations (Google Scholar). After retiring from the University of California, Berkeley, Fréchet joined the newly created King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in 2010 as its first vice president for research. He retired in January 2019 as senior vice president for research, innovation, and economic development. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences, Fréchet has been selected for numerous international honors, including the American Chemical Society (ACS) Arthur C. Cope Award, Erasmus Medal, French Grand Prix de la Maison de la Chimie, Japan Prize (shared with Willson), and King Faisal International Prize in Chemistry. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the Institut de Chimie et Physique Industrielles and his M.S. and Ph.D. in polymer chemistry from both the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Syracuse University.

The Draper Prize was established and endowed in 1988 at the request of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc., Cambridge, Mass., to honor the memory of “Doc” Draper, the “father of inertial navigation,” and to increase public understanding of the contributions of engineering and technology. The prize is awarded biennially.

The mission of the NAE is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshaling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology. The NAE is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization chartered by Congress to provide objective analysis and advice to the nation on matters of science, technology, and health.