Building FPGAs around NEMs-based transistors

April 16, 2020 //By Julien Happich
NEMs-based transistors
Electronics that can operate at high temperatures with very high energy efficiency are necessary to power future electric cars and aircraft, as well as IoT applications.

On the other hand, superconducting quantum circuits need to operate at cryogenic temperatures. To serve both these emerging requirements, the EU-funded project ZeroAMP aims to develop ultra-low power computing and memory, using nanomechanical switches that can survive these extreme environments. The project will use novel materials, switch designs and circuit techniques along with advanced 3D stacking to maximize energy efficiency and environmental capability.

To push beyond the limits of transistors, MCU vendor Microchip Technology alongside semiconductor foundry X-FAB MEMS Foundry GmbH are developing the first large-scale integrated nanoelectromechanical relay-based computer for harsh environments.

Critical expertise will be provided in this international project by the University of Bristol, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Gesellschaft für Angewandte Mikro- und Optoelektronik GmbH, the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology SA (CSEM) and SCIPROM Sàrl.

The goal of ZeroAMP is to develop nanoelectromechanical relay-based field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA) with integrated non-volatile memory, which work at temperatures up to 275°C with zero current leakage and standby power. The solution builds on the ground-breaking work already carried out by the consortium partners in the area of nanoelectromechanical relay-based computing.

Together with ZeroAMP’s partners, CSEM will be involved in the optimization process, developing nanocrystalline graphite (NCG) as a contact material to improve reliability. The NCG acts as a solid conducting lubricant to protect the contacts from wear and tear over repeated cycling, and the low surface forces of this material help reduce stiction.

The ZeroAMP project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 871740 (ZeroAMP).

ZeroAMP - https://www.zeroamp.eu

Related articles:

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MEMS RF switches perform beyond 20GHz almost lossless

GE spins out MEMS startup: wants cheaper power switches

DelfMEMS shows SP12T RF MEMS switch


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