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PETMEM Report Summary

Project ID: 688282
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PETMEM (Piezoelectronic Transduction Memory Device)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2017-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

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.
The consortium that will develop PETMEM technologies comprises 11 partners: Bio Nano Consulting (London UK), IBM Research (Zurich, Switzerland), Max Planck Institute (Dresden and Halle, Germany), Solmates (Enschede, The Netherlands), SINTEF (Oslo, Norway), National Physical Laboratory (Teddington UK), The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology - EMPA (Zurich, Switzerland), University of Gent (Gent, Belgium), Aixacct (Aachen Germany), Electrosciences (Surrey, UK) and DCA (Turku, Finland).

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 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.
Outline of key results achieved:
- The materials and device specifications have been determined.
- Two rounds of materials (PE and PR) deposition experiments have been performed.
- New and novel PR materials have been identified and synthesized.
- We have developed the first set of test structures for piezoelectric (PE) devices.
- The vital structural parameters of the PETMEM device have been determined via finite element analysis.
- The samples produced from this initial round of experiments were characterized by other consortium partners (aixACCT, IBM, NPL, BNC).
- The integration of the DBLI characterization tool is completed.
- Significant progress on the determination of material and device reliability (NPL, AIX), study of residual stress (NPL), device design, yoke structure and process flows (IBM) down-selection.
- Significant progress of work to realize Gen1 PETMEM (January 2018) with the fabrication of the fundamental actuator unit.
- Three publications from the project partners have been published; further articles (at least 4) to be submitted for publication with at least 2 IPs expected.
- Three newsletters, with highlights of the project to date, has been disseminated.
- PETMEM dissemination actions at 30 conferences both within the EU and beyond; 6 presentations planned for the next 6 months.
- A regularly updated website and an intranet depository (SharePoint).
- A PETMEM interactive experience application has been developed for public engagement.
- Two public outreach musical and poetry events planned
- The consortium (ELECTRO-led) is already planning for the use and dissemination of expected foreground IPs (PETMEM, tools, software, and materials).
- the analysis of target markets, the preparation of an initial business plan and a roadmap for PETMEM.
- We have created an industrial advisory board (IAB) which met on the 15th May 2017 in London.
- The feedback from the IAB members supports our plans and priority activities both for the memory element and short-term RF switching applications.
- So far, the consortium has completed 27 deliverables with 11 more due in the next 6 months. Also, all the 5 key milestones due at M18 have been achieved with good progress of work to meet the 2 key milestones-M6 & M10 due in month25 and month26 respectively.
- As at month18, the consortium has identified 21 risks (at WPs & Tasks levels) with associated contingency/mitigation plans created, in place and updated regularly. We added 6 new risks between month12 and month18. Also, we have de-risked 4 risks (R1, R5, R11, R12) either due to the application of mitigation actions or the failure of the risk to materialize.
- Our analysis of the Use of Resources within the project indicates that the beneficiaries have put in 52% of the planned efforts in term of person-months and 43% in terms of financial spending.

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)

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.

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