Graphene electronics pilot line takes shape

Graphene electronics pilot line takes shape

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The Graphene Flagship is setting up an experimental pilot line for graphene-based electronics, optoelectronics and sensors that can run in multiple labs across Europe.

The Flagship project says this is first-of-its-kind experimental manufacturing capability, where European companies, research centres and academic institutions, can produce novel devices based on two-dimensional (2D) materials on a pilot scale at labs across Europe.

The aim is to demonstrate how to manufacture and scale up the production of devices based on 2D materials for market applications. This is a crucial step before graphene technologies can be transferred to full scale manufacturing.

The Graphene Flagship has proposed a consortium consisting of key European players covering the whole value chain, including tool manufacturers, chemical and material providers and semiconductor fabrication lines: Aixtron and Oxford Instruments (UK), imec (Belgium), AMO, iHP, Micro Resist Technology, Aixtron and Suss Microtech (Germany), Graphenea (Spain) and VTT (Finland).

The project kicks off tomorrow, 8 October 2020, but the lines will not be up and running until 2024. The process flow will be validated in state-of-the-art cleanroom environments all around Europe at AMO, iHP, imec and VTT, with device design integrated into the EUROPRACTICE design service framework.

An Industrial Advisory Board, which comprises key players from the European semiconductor industry, such as X-FAB, Infineon and Emberion, will make sure the process technology can be adopted in volume manufacturing.

“For many applications, the wafer scale integration of graphene and potentially other 2D materials is required for products to appear on the market,” said Lilei Ye, Business Developer for Electronics Applications at the Graphene Flagship. “The 2D Experimental Pilot Line (2D-EPL) will accelerate the manufacture of new prototypes for electronics, photonics and optoelectronics with integrated graphene and layered materials.”

“Two-dimensional materials have unique properties for electronic and photonic devices, as well as for sensors,” said Cedric Huyghebaert, technical leader of the 2D-EPL project and programme manager for exploratory material and module integration at imec. “There are now plenty of prototypes of devices based on 2D materials that out-perform current technologies. To bring these devices into the market we need to develop tool kits and design manuals to allow manufacturing compatible with semiconductor industry standards.”

“The 2D-EPL really highlights how the European Commission, through projects like the Graphene Flagship, can make an impact in European research, development and industry,” says Graphene Flagship Director Jari Kinaret. “We identified a challenge – upscaling the production of graphene electronics – and the European Commission heard us, finding funding to address this challenge.”

The 2D-EPL project is coordinated by a team at Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) for the administrative, business development and dissemination support. The technical and scientific management is led by imec and supported by a core technical steering-group consisting of principle investigators from the integration sites of the pilot line.

In a latter phase, the project will develop modules that will manufacture the basic building blocks for GRM-based technologies in the fields of optoelectronics, photonics and electronics. These modules will be publicly available for European users through multi-purpose wafers to make sure the technologies are widely available and accessible at a reasonable cost.

The Pilot Line builds on the existing activities of its partners in the Graphene Flagship and it is closely linked  to the Graphene Core 3 project. However, its activities are complementary to those developed in other parts of the Flagship and involve new players.

The €1bn Graphene Flagship gathers nearly 170 academic and industrial partners from 21 countries, exploring different aspects of graphene and related materials.

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