Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The TU Ilmenau develops tomorrow’s chip technology today

27.04.2017

The Technische Universität Ilmenau has successfully completed a European research project, in which new technologies for the development of the electronic chips of the future were developed.

In this 18 million euro project, led by Professor Ivo W. Rangelow in Ilmenau, 16 industrial and scientific partners explored the technological processes behind the production of transistors, whose smallest components are only two nanometres in width, which is half a million times smaller than a millimetre.


Photo: TU Ilmenau


Photo: TU Ilmenau

The results of the project enable the mass production of a new generation of electronics, including incredibly energy-efficient and high-performance computers, smartphones and tables, to name only a few examples.

In the last 50 years, our modern information society has experienced incredible technological development. Electronic chips for computers, mobile phones and tab-lets are becoming smaller and more powerful than ever before.

The number of transistors on a single chip has been increased from 2,300 in 1970 to 1.3 billion today. 45 years ago, the smallest parts of those transistors were still just as big as the diameter of a human hair, around 75,000 nanometres. Today, this length is only 14 nanometres.

The size of electronic components is constantly decreasing, but the end of this min-iaturisation is in sight, at least when using conventional technologies. Experts pre-dict that the physical construction limits of today’s transistors will be reached be-tween the years 2025 and 2035.

Electronic devices that can perform well, as well as remain as energy-efficient as possible, not only require a completely new type of transistor, but also smaller and smaller structures for these semiconductor compo-nents. These minuscule structures must also be producible in large quantities. At the moment, such transistors can only operate in laboratories at extremely low temperatures of below minus 200ºC.

During this European joint project, “Single Nanometer Manufacturing for beyond CMOS Devices (SNM)”, a large European research team working under the leader-ship of Professor Ivo W. Rangelow optimised the preexisting production methods for fast electronic components and have enabled the production of electronic structures smaller than two nanometres.

The ground-breaking scientific results of the SNM project have made possible the mass production of a new generation of high-performance and energy-efficient electronics. A great step has been made: the smaller the structures built into a transistor, the greater the number of transistors on a CPU, and thus the more powerful the computer.

An increase in processing capability and storage space is urgently needed, considering the expansion of the internet into an internet of things that has long-since begun. Only in this way will it be possible to connect computers with more and more “smart” objects from our day-to-day lives in the digital world, so your computer, fridge and co. can all communicate together.

To this end, high processing power with the lowest possible energy usage is the goal. The battery capacity of mobile electronic devices, such as laptops and smartphones, is one of their biggest weak points. In order to reduce the energy usage of highly-integrated electronic circuits and thus of electronic devices them-selves, Prof. Rangelow and his research team either utilised current production methods in new ways or simply developed wholly new, innovative ones.

In this way, the energy usage of mobile devices could possibly be reduced by 2,500%. But Prof. Rangelow does advise against being overly optimistic: “The energy usage of mobile devices is dependent on so many factors that huge reductions might be theoretically possible, but cannot be scientifically and credibly predicted. But with our new methods we certainly have paved the way for technologies that allow us-ers to charge their mobiles far less often. Instead of every day, maybe only once every five days.”

The results of the SNM project were made possible through an interdisciplinary cooperation by 16 top-quality universities, research institutes and industry companies in eight European countries. In their research work, the 50 scientists used quantum effects to design ultra-small, so-called “single electron components”. As opposed to classical physics, quantum mechanics allows the physical properties of matter to be precisely measured down to the particle scale.

The scientific analysis of structures on scales below ten nanometres is incredibly time-consuming and was coordinated by the Dutch national metrology institute VSL, a world-leading institute of measurement technology. The measurements of the single electron components were carried out at Imperial College London, a British university, which aims to carry out world-class research in the natural and engineering sciences. These measurements confirmed that the smallest functional structures had a diameter of only 1.8 nanometres. When the SNM project began four years ago, diameters of 35 nanometres were achieved with traditional production methods.

The production of electronic components using lithography, an inscribing process, comprises two steps. Firstly, the structures are written in a coating layer. During this step, the shape for the second step is prepared, similar to the production of negatives in analog photography. Finally, the structures are etched from the coat-ing layer into the silicon; the “positive image”, the electronic component, is created from the “negative” of the first step. Until a complete ultra-small circuit can be produced, the individual, incredibly complex steps need to be carried out dozens, if not, hundreds of times.

Using so-called “slow electrons”, the scientists at the TU Ilmenau formed structures of sizes below 10 nanometres with one or multiple nano-sized needles. This inscribing process, named scanning-probe technology, allows not only for the patterning of nano-structures, but also allows them to be read and to be arranged incredibly precisely.

The development of electronic structures smaller than two nanometres is an outstanding achievement for Prof. Range-low: “Across the world, technologies that could realise the computer of the future, the quantum computer, are being intensively sought out and researched. In con-trast to traditional computers, these are exclusively based on the laws of quantum mechanics. Quantum computers will be incomparably more powerful, because they would allow us to avoid classic problems in computing, such as searching extreme-ly large databases. The scanning-probe technology we have developed, with which we can produce structures smaller than two nanometres, has opened the door to this new world of quantum computer a fair amount.”

12 million of the almost 18 million euros in funding for this EU joint project, “Sin-gle Nanometer Manufacturing for beyond CMOC Devices”, came from the seventh framework programme of the European Union; the remaining six million was sourced from international partners that took part.

The international partners of the TU Ilmenau made considerable, valuable contribu-tions to these new technologies:

• Thermal lithographic methods, which were invented by one of the worldwide leading hard- and software companies IBM and significantly enhanced for the SNM project, allowed for the production of ultra-small size and even three-dimensional components. IBM conducted research and development in close col-laboration with a young Swiss start-up firm, the SwissLitho AG. As a result of this project, SwissLitho launched the first commercial device for the production of ultra-small size electronic components on to the market: the NanoFrazor.


• The biggest public research center in Spain – the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas CSIC – presented new methods for the production of components made from nanowires with a thickness of less than ten nanometres.

• The British SME Oxford Scientific Consultants – dealing with research and development as well as prototype development – used a new writing technique successfully using helium ions instead of electrons.

• Coating layers, which are used for both lithography and the transfer of written structures onto the carrier material silicon, were improved to such an extent at the Universität Bayreuth that structures smaller than ten nanometres could be produced in silicon.

• The transfer into the silicon material is carried out with the help of etching pro-cesses, which have been adapted to structure processing in smallest dimensions and the use of the new coating layers. Alongside the TU Ilmenau and the Interu-niversity Microelectronics Centre IMEC, one of the biggest European research centres for nano- and microelectronics, the biggest state university in Great Britain Open University and Oxford Instruments, a British company developing scientific devices for industry and research, were involved in the entire project.

• The speed required for the mass production of electronic structures was achieved by the Austrian producer of wafer processing equipment, EV Group (EVG), with the help of the so called nano-imprinting lithography, in short nanoimprint. Fully automated processing solutions were developed for achieving throughputs of up to 30 substrates per hour. This is an exceptional increase to so far used manual systems and is compatible with production requirements. The Dutch Technische Universiteit Delft has developed a high-resolution lithographic process, increasing the speed significantly with the help of 25 electron beams rather than one.

Contact:
Prof. Ivo W. Rangelow
Director, Institute for Micro‐ and Nano‐electronics,
Head, Micro‐ and Nano‐electronics Systems Department
Phone: + 49 3677 69‐3718
Email: ivo.rangelow@tu‐ilmenau.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.tu-ilmenau.de/mne/

Bettina Wegner | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht First machine learning method capable of accurate extrapolation
13.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht A step closer to single-atom data storage
13.07.2018 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides

16.07.2018 | Life Sciences

New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon

16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>