ATHENIS IC technology platform enables energy efficiency in harshest automotive environments

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By eeNews Europe

Currently more than 20% of the value of each conventional (ICE) car already comes from embedded electronics. This percentage will further increase for hybrid (HEV) and fully electrical vehicles (FEV). Keeping costs and space for additional functionality low requires integration of low voltage and high voltage devices and embedded memory on a single System-on-Chip (SoC). Increasing energy efficiency of vehicles also requires placing ICs in harsh environments e.g. near batteries, motors, or alternators while keeping costs low in order to ensure broad market adoption.

The capabilities of the technology platform were demonstrated by a novel “flexible” alternator regulator IC enabling a new generation of alternators with 1-2% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for ICEs and HEVs.

The consortium led by austriamicrosystems (AT) included Valeo Powertrain and Electrical Systems (FR), Cavendish Kinetics (NL,UK), Fraunhofer IISB (DE), TU Vienna (AT), University of Ferrara (IT), MASER Engineering (NL) and Fondazione Bruno Kessler (IT) as partners, all of them leaders in their respective areas of expertise.

The ATHENIS technology platform was established by combining HVCMOS technology from austriamicrosystems with MEMS-based “Nanomech” embedded non-volatile memory technology from Cavendish Kinetics. System specifications and verification including validation of operation up to 200C in a retrofitted commercial car was contributed by Valeo Powertrain and Electrical Systems. Development of novel reliability, simulation, characterization and testing methods as well as new ESD and device concepts were performed by the other partners. The resulting technological advances of ATHENIS led to 14 patent filings and 35 publications. Academic highlights that have received international recognition include a novel, predictive NBTI reliability model (invited paper at IEDM 2010) and the first report of a 0.18 µm HVCMOS technology with operating voltages up to 120 V and 8 kV HBM ESD (ISPSD 2010).

“The mastering of IC reliability for harshest environments in the ATHENIS project has not only enabled a new generation of flexible alternators for reducing CO2 emissions, but also provides the basis for further integrated electronics to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs in cars even for Fully Electrical Vehicles of the future,” said Jean Claude Matt, Advanced and Generic R&D Director from Valeo Powertrain and Electrical Systems, who has chaired the ATHENIS Steering Committee.

“As result of ATHENIS we have been able to introduce low cost HVCMOS technology and reliable embedded non-volatile memory to applications in harshest automotive environments and gained substantial scientific insights into reliability phenomena. The project results hold the promise of significant commercial success for the industrial partners as well as contributing to CO2 emission reduction as outlined in the EU 2020 initiative.” added Martin Schrems, Director Process Development & Implementation at austriamicrosystems, who has led the coordination team of ATHENIS.

More information about ATHENIS at


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