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ASCENT Report Summary

Project ID: 654384
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ASCENT (Access to European Nanoelectronics Network)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

ASCENT offers unparalleled access to European Nanoelectronics Infrastructure at Tyndall National Institute in Ireland, CEA-Leti in France and imec in Belgium. Funded by the Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructures Programme ASCENT will enable the European research community to explore exciting new developments in advanced nanoelectronics and meet the challenges created in an ever-evolving and demanding digital world.

ASCENT provides fast and easy access to the world’s most advanced CMOS technologies and infrastructure including access to 14nm CMOS device data, nanoscale test chips and device characterisation facilities. This is a unique opportunity to share best scientific and technological practices, form a knowledge–innovation hub and enable training for new researchers on advanced technology.

ASCENT is establishing a nanoelectronics research network across Europe and provides researchers with a direct interface to global industrial leaders in nanoelectronics, through the Industry Innovation Committee.

All researchers are eligible to apply: there is a very simple sign up form on the website, the application procedure is very fast and there are technical points of contact at each partner site to help applicants at each step of the process.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The ASCENT programme started in May 2015 and the immediate goal was to establish a new network within the nanoelectronics community that would benefit from access to world-leading expertise and facilities at Tyndall in Ireland, imec in Belgium and CEA-Leti in France. This involved setting up a comprehensive communication plan including a website, an official brand and gathering list of potential users from across Europe. In parallel the partners set about establishing a simple access route and internal access protocols that would allow fast and easy access to the three partner sites. All the technology offerings were uploaded to the website and IP protection measures were put in place.

This initial phase was complete within 6 months and the access was opened in November 2015. There was intensive media campaign involved in launching the programme called the ‘Sign-up’ campaign. As well as an official press release all other communication channels such as mailshots, Twitter, LinkedIn and both the ASCENT website and partner websites were used to promote ASCENT. The campaign was strengthened as the press release was fed through the media channels of all three partners in a co-ordinated way resulting in widespread coverage. This campaign has continued since the launch with great success and to date 200 members have signed up from 35 countries.

There are three main elements within the programme: the networking activities, the access projects and the Joint Research Activities. The partners have worked very closely together to ensure that all aspects are delivered to the highest standards.

Extensive network building has taken place to a wide range of audiences. ASCENT has been involved in 26 events over the past year, including organising 3 ASCENT Workshops, 2 ‘mini’ workshops, a training webinar, 1-min video and a wide of supporting material. The goal of every event is to engage with the research community, to build an exciting network and attract users to the programme.

As a result of the extensive networking 200 members have signed up and this has resulted in 65 technical enquiries being received. Each enquiry is dealing with by a technical expert at the partner site. Two type of access are available, Virtual Access (VA) to data or Transnational Access (TA) to devices or facilities. The details of the enquiry are shared with all partners and every assistance is given to ensure the researcher is matched to the best platform available. Once the proposed project has been defined a proposal is prepared detailing the work required. For Virtual Access the researchers receive immediate access to the data and for transnational access the proposals are sent independent Selection Panel to decide on what projects get funded. To date 25 projects are underway, 14 VA and 11 TA projects. The VA projects access data from imec and CEA-Leti, the TA projects are accessing all three partner sites.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

ASCENT is contributing to progress beyond state of the art at 14nm CMOS and beyond by offering access to device data and expertise and facilities at the world leading facilities and contributing to the European strategic electronics roadmap. The European electronics community has set the goal to double the economic value of the semiconductor component production in Europe by 2020-2025. Nanoelectronics as a Key Enabling Technology, together with Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, underpins Europe’s ability to respond in societal challenges and is essential for Europe’s competitiveness in Industrial Technologies contributing to growth and jobs. Hosting the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing research and development facilities, positions Europe to become a leader in design methodologies for advanced nanoelectronics with below 10 nm feature sizes, thus enabling a competitive advantage for low power, mobile electronics applications with increased functionality. ASCENT opens the doors for all researchers to be part of this future technology development.

In addition to the large investment in research infrastructure, Europe is also home to leading technology computer aided design (TCAD) teams developing transistor models to guide fabrication and for developing compact models that enable circuit designers to avail of the advantages offered by advanced nanoelectronics manufacturing. ASCENT builds upon these strengths and offers the facilities to accelerate technology development by fostering collaboration between these communities.

ASCENT is accelerating the development of nanoelectronics technology through:
- Mobilizing the nanoelectronics infrastructure within Europe, industry stakeholders (advanced chip manufacturers and TCAD providers) and the leading user groups from the characterization and design communities
- Linking advanced research to complimentary technology platforms by opening access to the state-of-the-art transistor test structures, interconnects, test circuits and nanostructures with the availability of accompanying electrical characterization data made available at the earliest stages of advanced technology development. This allows these groups to leap frog international competitors and to work with at the forefront of available technologies.

ASCENT provides the opportunity to build coordination and networking activities for the nanoelectronics community, and delivers a globally unique capability for the delivery of first mover advantage in this domain. The infrastructure will act to underpin a truly international leading position for the European nanoelectronics industry, and aligns with the recommendations of the Electronic Leaders Group to create an innovation ecosystem through provision of the much needed co-operation at a European level that has missing in the nanoelectronics community to date.

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