IEEE Honors Lee with Technical Field Award

Chin Lee, who recently retired after 40 years on the Samueli School faculty, received the 2021 IEEE Electronics Packaging Award, IEEE’s highest technical honor.

Dec. 11, 2020 Chin C. Lee, who retired in July after 40 years on the UC Irvine electrical engineering and computer science faculty, has received the 2021 IEEE Electronics Packaging Award for meritorious contributions to the advancement of components, electronic packaging or manufacturing technologies. Lee, professor emeritus, is an IEEE Life Fellow. He was recognized specifically for his contributions to “new silver alloys, new bonding methods, flip-chip interconnect and education for electronics packaging,” by the IEEE Electronics Packaging Society through the Technical Field Awards Council of the IEEE Awards Board.

Lee’s research focused on the use of silver-based alloys in electronic applications and packaging, and he and his team developed new bonding methods and interconnection processes and technologies. His work uncovered surprising physical and chemical properties of these silver alloys, including anti-tarnishing qualities, anti-electrochemical migration and high thermal stability, which opened the door for the electronics packaging industry to adopt them for next-generation electronics.

The IEEE citation called Lee’s work “integral to developing high-temperature and high-power electronics,” adding that his research resulted in “a wider process window, lower cost and higher yield in packaging components.”

Additionally, Lee was recognized for establishing, in 2007, UCI’s graduate program in materials and manufacturing technology.

Kumar Wickramasinghe, UCI Distinguished Professor and former chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, called the IEEE Field Award the organization’s highest technical prize. “Chin Lee received this award for his outstanding contributions to fluxless bonding in electronic packaging, in particular the use of silver binary alloys to directly bond silicon onto copper at much lower temperatures than demonstrated earlier,” Wickramasinghe said. “His low-temperature bonding technology is used today for heat sinking [a form of passive heat exchange] a variety of high-power electronic devices. Chin Lee joins an illustrious list of prior recipients.”

Lee’s former graduate student, Goran Matijasevic, earned a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer engineering in 1991 and is now UCI’s senior assistant vice chancellor for alumni and constituent relations. “It is wonderful to hear that Professor Lee has been honored with the prestigious IEEE Electronics Packaging Award as its 2021 recipient. His contributions to new materials, methods and technologies for electronics packaging are numerous, as are his education efforts in the field,” said Matijasevic. “I am honored to be one of his first Ph.D. students. He has imparted many lessons that have guided me in both my engineering career and my current work on industry engagement, and I am forever grateful for his mentorship and friendship.”

Lee expressed his appreciation at receiving the award. “Personally, it is my great pleasure and joy to bring major technical advancements and get recognized in my own research field,” he said, adding that he is grateful to family, friends, colleagues and his former graduate students. “Without their support and contributions, I would never have had this wonderful academic journey.” 

Now that he’s retired, Lee intends to take advantage of the slower pace by reading, writing and enjoying time with family. He also plans to stay involved on campus. “As always, I hope that I can still contribute some of my efforts in helping UC Irvine and the Henry Samueli Engineering School community,” he said.

-Anna Lynn Spitzer