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Chemistry and nanoelectronics

Final Activity Report Summary - CHEMTRONICS (Chemistry and nanoelectronics)

The CHEMTRONICS project (Chemistry for nanoelectronics) addresses the challenge of the use of the tools of chemistry to build new devices for nanoelectronics.

Nanoelectronics is an exciting field of study in Europe that has caught the imagination of both the scientific sphere and the public alike. It refers to the assembling of very tiny objects, some nanometers in one dimension, closer to 2 nanometres in diameter of the double helix of DNA.

Building active electronic devices at such a small scale means relying on the clever manipulation of very basic building blocks - this is in line with the so-called 'bottom-up' approach - whilst preserving the specific and unique properties given by their size. Indeed nanotechnology often refers to devices that have quantum mechanical properties. 11 outstanding PhD students have been recruited to the project (four female, eight nationalities). It is the interface between the various fields that holds real benefits for progress in this melting-pot of talent and inter-related disciplines. The researchers were specifically involved in aspects of chemistry, physics, DNA biology, simulation, and synthesis and device design. They were encouraged into developing complimentary skills outside their usual comfort zone, and learn how to manage the innovation process - all of them with the singular aim of looking to advance their subject.

A specific training has been developed. The aim of the CHEMTRONICS workshops or training schools was:
- to make the PhDs explore methods in the field of chemistry for electronics;
- to make their understanding as rounded and complete as possible and with a direction into innovation process until commercialisation;
- with attention paid to career plans.

The scientific background of CHEMTRONICS backed onto the CEA programme 'Chimtronique'. This program is intended to develop capabilities in the field of nano-electronics, to go further and faster beyond the current CMOS transistor technology. During bi-annual CHEMTRONICS workshops, the PhDs followed the advances of the others in a very close way. Each year, they presented their results to the Chimtronique community, solely or in common.

It has been realised by the CHEMTRONICS project that the 'soft' processes used in chemistry could be a brilliant way to design nanotechnology. The tools of chemistry are ideal for assembling nanoscale objects in order to build new devices for nanoelectronics such as transistors, molecular memories and optical devices.

The research programme was based on three types of nano-objects:
- carbon nanotubes, and graphene nanoribbons.
- functional molecular or supramolecular systems and conjugated polymers at the nanoscale: these systems are designed to give a 'function' to the surface they are linked with. It could be recognition ability, photosensibility, etc. If their conformation can be changed by an external excitation, they are so-called 'programmable' molecules.
- semiconductor nanowires and nanoparticles.

Electronic and optoelectronic applications of these 1D and 0D nanostructures are at the core of R&D owing to their size-dependent optical and electronic properties and to their potential application as building blocks, interconnects and functional components. For these reasons transversal activities like:
(i) architectures quantum simulation;
(ii) self-assembling and molecular organisation; and
(iii) integration and hybridisation onto CMOS, have been developed. New devices have been produced with the needed properties: luminescent complexes for OLEDs with very high efficiency, bio-inspired transistor, bistable molecular components for memories, ultrashort channel transistor, new material for organic electronics, new techniques for auto assembling of nano-objects etc.

The four year CHEMTRONICS project has achieved much in terms of dissemination in more than 35 articles, creating 4 patents and 45 involvements in conferences.

Today, seven students have ended their PhD and they are now engaged in various ways: post-doctoral positions, career in the industrial sector, some of them are even considering a start-up.