Pushing computation solutions beyond the limits of transistors
Transistors are the building blocks of digital integrated circuits found in every modern electronic device, from cell phones to industrial electronics. However, more and more emerging applications utilise ultra-low power sources and operate at low power in harsh environmental conditions where transistors cannot perform efficiently. In ZeroAMP, we will address the societal and industrial needs for such computation solutions by pushing beyond the limits of transistors. To tackle this challenge, we will develop novel nanoelectromechanical (NEM) switches that survive extreme environments.
Novel zero-leakage NEM switches
In ZeroAMP, we aim to build electronic components comprising logic and non-volatile memory (NVM) to meet the needs of emerging applications that require reliable operation in extreme environments while maintaining a very high energy efficiency.
For this purpose, we will develop novel zero-leakage NEM switches based on a novel 4-terminal (4-T) relay and a novel moment-driven bistable circular relay. By combining novel energy-efficient circuit architectures with new materials, we will reduce device count and eliminate leakage in both logic and memory at all operational temperatures (at near cryogenic temperature and up to 300°C).
Further on, we will develop a novel ultra-high-density 3D stacking technology for the large-scale integration of the NEM switching elements on a multi-layer interconnect stack. We will also implement a wafer-level process for hermetic sealing of the NEM switches to ensure long-term reliability as well as high-temperature resistant chip-level packages for the circuit demonstrators.
Finally, we will demonstrate an energy-efficient FPGA for harsh environments validated in a laboratory environment (Technology Readiness Level 4 TRL-4) with >10k NEM relays, based on the 4-T and bistable switches in the same die, to produce efficient, reprogrammable logic structures that retain their state when switched off. Furthermore, we will build a robust 16 kb NVM demonstrator, based on the novel bistable NEM relay, for which one-time programmable (OTP) memory and reprogrammable memory will be targeted.
Energy-efficient processors with zero standby power
The future exploitation and applications
Autonomous nodes in the IoT require extremely energy-efficient processors with zero standby power, while all-electric vehicles and more-electric aircraft need electronics controllers that work at very high temperatures. At the other end of the spectrum, readout circuitry for superconducting quantum circuits need to operate close to cryogenic temperatures.
Thus, our ZeroAMP technology will be potential game-changers in the IoT, automotive, energy, aerospace and industrial automation industries, as well as an enabling technology for cryogenic quantum computing.
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871740 (ZeroAMP).