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Piezoelectronic Transduction Memory Device

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PETMEM (Piezoelectronic Transduction Memory Device)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2019-05-31

Computer clock speeds have not significantly increased since 2003, creating a challenge to invent a successor to CMOS technology able to resume the improvement in clock speed and power performance. The key requirements for a viable alternative are scalability to nanoscale dimensions – following Moore’s Law – and simultaneous reduction of line voltage in order to limit switching power. Achieving these two aims for both transistors and memory allows clock speed to again increase with dimensional scaling, a result that would have great impact across the IT industry. PETMEM is a European partnerships amongst Universities, Research Institutions, SMEs and a large company that will focus on the development of new materials and characterization tools to enable the fabrication of an entirely new low-voltage, memory element. This element makes use of internal transduction in which a voltage state external to the device is converted to an internal acoustic signal that drives an insulator-metal transition. Modelling based on the properties of known materials at device dimensions on the 15 nm scale predicts that this mechanism enables device operation at voltages an order of magnitude lower than CMOS technology (power is reduced two orders) while achieving 10GHz operating speed.

This project has resulted in the following outputs:

- New processes for the deposition of advanced materials such as piezoresistive and piezoelectric materials.
- New metrology and characterisation tools, which were created specifically to fill a capabilities gap, relevant to understanding the operation of the PET device.
- A validated process flow for a PET device, yielding the first PET device.
- New buisness and validation of commercial strategies.
- The creations of a technology and stakeholder ecosystem needed to nurture the PET technology in the future.
- New insight into the market potential of piezoMEMs devices
- public engagement through multimedia projects at both the expert and non expert level.
The PETMEM project will involve the building of single or small arrays of PETMEM devices with off-chip electronics to energize and test the performance of the devices. The primary goal of PETMEM is to demonstrate that the basic concept of a piezoelectric driven, 2 state, piezoresistive memory cell works.
The PETMEM device consists of 2 main active components the PE (piezoelectric) layer and the PR (piezoresistive) layer. A voltage is applied across the PE layer by using a bottom gate contact and a common contact located at the interface between the PE and the PR layers. A top sense contact allows for the resistance of the PR layer to be measured. The basic principle of the device is that the PR layer displays a hysteretic transition between a high resistance state (OFF) and a low resistance state (ON) that is driven by pressure.

Technical:

- The materials and device specifications have been determined.
- New PR materials have been investigated and deposited
- PE materials have been investigated and deposited.
- We have developed the first set of test structures for piezoelectric (PE) devices and testing has been undertaken.
- The vital structural parameters of the PETMEM device have been determined via finite element analysis.
- Successful metrology experiments have been undertaken, providing unparalleled understanding of this little investigated materials.
- The integration and use of new metrology and characterization tools has yielded new insights and data, which has proven critical in the development of the PET device.
- Significant progress on the determination of material and device reliability, study of residual stress, device design, yoke structure and process flows, down-selection.
- process flow of the PETMEM device has been validated resulting in the first PET device structure, testing is ongoing through partner commitments post project

Project Dissemination:

- 18 publications have been published in peer reviewed journals and all are available to the public in gold or green open access models. Many more publications are planned for publication post PETMEM too.
- Six newsletters, with highlights of the project to date, has been disseminated.
- PETMEM project has been widely disseminated at international conferences with invited talks and post presentations.
- A regularly updated website and an intranet depository (SharePoint).
- Two public outreach musical and poetry events have engaged with the public about the context and problem PETMEM aims to solve, raising awareness and exploring new ways of public outreach, furthermore an interactive AR experience was created to further engage members of the public at events and meetings.

Strategy/ Market Exploitation:

- Analysis of target markets and the development of a relevant industrial strategy have been completed.
- Overseen the creation and nurturing of an Industrial Advisory Board (IAB), which has informed market strategy and analysis. Furthermore feedback from the IAB members supports our plans and priority activities both for the memory element and short-term RF switching applications.
- The consortium is already planning for the use and dissemination of expected foreground IP's (PETMEM, tools, software, and materials).
- Sales of new tools and process have resulted from the project, generating revenue and increasing market share of SME's involved in the project
- New collaborations have been built.

Administration:

- All deliverables and milestones are now complete
- As at Month 42, all risks have been controlled and contingency/mitigation plans created, in place and updated regularly. We now consider all risks relevant to the project to be derisked or mitigated by ongoing commitments by partners post project.
Bringing down the energy consumption by electronics is extremely important. Currently, the energy consumed by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) already accounts for up to 10 % of the total electrical energy generated in industrialized countries. We are now entering an era where billions of interconnected, mobile devices that will generate vast amounts of data, but also potentially consume vast amounts of energy. Innovative technologies must reduce the power consumption for logic and memory devices to ultra-low levels.
This beyond CMOS piezoElectronics platform can potentially continue the historic reduction of cost/increased function with generation into future decades. Through PETMEM, European equipment industry will gain a significant share of a new market within design and production tools for an important technology. In the long term PETMEM will contribute to a novel beyond CMOS piezoelectric transduction computer architecture that has the potential to give fast ultra-low power computation and in the shorter term revolutionize on board computing for the internet of things/sensors where density is not critical.

Furthermore partners, who were united around a common vision in the PETMEM project have committed to exploring and developing the work created in the project, opening new markets, creating new customers and advancing the integration of CMOS and PiezoMEMs in Europe.
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