Introduction to Nanoelectronics
With development of nanotechnology in the 21st century, nanoelectronics as one of the main subcategories of this technology has attracted much more attention and in the scientific roadmap of many countries, it has been considered as one of the supremacy elements at the next decade and a large share of the investment has been allocated to this section. Over the last decade, many fields, including energy, transportation, security, Internet communication and high-speed mobile, data space (cloud), etc. have been affected by nanotechnology. Furthermore, devices such as molecular machines and motors, artificial muscles, electrostatics, electromechanical and piezoelectric actuators, biosensors and nanosensors, gas sensors, terahertz imaging, and oscillators are examples that have evolved in the 21st century by nanoelectronics.
In the global economy, the nanoelectronics status is often represented as an inverted pyramid, in which manufacturers of electronic components that produce electronic chips are located at the apex. The next level of the pyramid is related to the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) which use electronic components to fabricate electronic products, in which the market value of these products is approximately five times the value of electronic components market. Similarly, the market value of the information and communication services, which are located at the bottom of inverted pyramid, is almost five times the market value of the electronic products. The rise in market value and their proportions are increasing yearly.
At least 10% of the gross world product (about $ 70,000 billion) relies on nanoelectronics products and services. This technology has improved many fields such as automotive, aerospace, medicine, telecommunications and communications, which based on estimations the economic value of these fields is more than 700 billion euros for Europe. Moreover, the economic value of the European semiconductor industry has been estimated around 30 billion euros which has created 200,000 direct jobs and more than 800,000 indirect jobs. Investment in European semiconductor industry is at the highest global level, in a way that 20% of the revenues have been allotted to the research and innovation in this field. This evidence shows the emergence of this technology into the industry and its potentials for revolutionary changes on the future of human society.
Based on conducted research, the electronics industry will experience a remarkable growth in the coming years; the growth factors are as follows:
Moore's law comes close to its limitations and miniaturization of devices by this method is no longer responsive to the step-by-step promotion program of electronic equipment. The required power and performance are no longer proportional to size, and the industries have focused on technologies beyond the CMOS which will lead to the development of memory and logic devices with a novel technological paradigm.
2- Growth of Portable Wireless Equipment
It is expected that by 2020, devices based on the use of the Internet in the world such as a variety of personal computers, tablets, phones, TVs and smart textiles reach a total of 9 billion. Power consumption of these devices and other equipment including data acquisition, and communication and network is exponentially increasing; Therefore, there is a high demand for technologies with a direct application for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, increasing efficiency, decreasing power consumption, and achieving a recycling cycle of waste with high efficiency.
3- Internet of Things (IoT)
The next generation of information processing is a network of physically connected objects such as computers, phones, sensors, actuators, wearables, vehicles, buildings, and even energy systems, in which continuous calculation and sensing are carried out. The massive market of Internet of things (IoT) includes the industry of machine-to-machine communication, machine-to-human communication, human-to-human communication, and all kinds of smart measurement, which the complexity of this platform results in the need for technologies such as nanoelectronics, embedded systems, IT, artificial intelligence, parallel processing and deep learning.
It is expected that the rapid growth of IoT field increases the demands as follows:
- Low consumption equipment like TFET and NEMS
- Embedded Systems
- Encryption and complex protection systems
- RF and wireless networks
- CMOS-integrated sensors
- Energy harvesting and storage devices
4- Big data and advancement of Cloud-based systems
The inclination to the Cloud-based systems and massive volume of processable data, as well as increasing demand for data processing and analysis, has underscored the role of sensors and data received from them; millions of sensors around the world can send the signals of a unit of measurement to the servers and by using the processing power of these servers, data analysis, investigation of trends and providing solutions with the aid of artificial intelligence will be possible.
5- Pervasive electronics
Electronics technology has penetrated into all dimensions of human life. Exploration of nanomaterials has expanded the capabilities of flexible smart systems such as smart watches, smart glass, smartphones and smart wearables for pervasive electronics. Flexible technology currently includes a wide range of low-cost devices such as RFID tags, sensors and nano-integrated systems with performance equal to the silicon devices.
6- Nanomaterials for equipment with novel design and structure
In order to meet the market demand, increasing the power and efficiency of the electronic devices should be done in a cost-effective way, as well as in low-volume and lightweight. The use of nanomaterials has resulted in availability of higher power, improvement of efficiency, and bandwidth and flexibility, thermal management, and reduction of size and cost. The use of nanomaterials has led to the emergence of novel designs in electronic devices, new structures in the network and modern manufacturing process, which have remarkably helped to improve integration, higher power density of devices, as well as reduction of time-to-market.
7- Carbon and Two-Dimensional (2-D) nanomaterials
Recent advances in the development of flexible nanoparticles, such as graphene, carbon nanotubes, h-BN and TMDs, have increased the electronic applications of these materials. Fundamental studies have been done on the aforementioned nanomaterials so as to be used in practical applications, including low-power electronics, flexible and wearable, sensors, photonics and energy storage devices.
For instance, graphene is a two-dimensional material that shows amazing electrical and mechanical properties; these properties certify that graphene is a promising material for building a new generation of devices.
After graphene, emerging two-dimensional materials such as phosphorene and Silicene provide the ability of building flexible electronics and field-effect transistors with attractive and unique features. Production of high quality graphene using novel, and large-scale manufacturing methods, layer-by-layer transfer, and integration of tools have led to the invention of advanced electronic devices such as cell phones with graphene touch-screens, and high-frequency flexible electronics onto the plastic with a working frequency of 25 GHz and high reliability in bending stresses.
Nanoelectronics can generally be divided into three categories:
1. More Moore Sub-domain
Fabrication of integrated circuits using nanoscale components resulted in the number of transistors on a chip increases to around Giga-transistor, and the CMOS complex industry upgrades every day, as well as the cost function for chips reaches its minimum. This section, known as the More Moore route, includes about 70% of the market including digital logic circuits, memories and processors.
2. More-than-Moore Sub-domain
This section includes micro and nanoelectronic devices which are often non-digital. Sensors and mechanical, chemical, thermal, and biological actuators along with the readout circuit which is placed on a CMOS substrate, are put in this category. Microfluidic and nanofluidic devices, biosensors, RF devices and circuits, power switching devices and circuits, LEDs, solar cells, imaging tools and optical instruments, and energy storage devices are other equipment which belong to this category. In fact, this group of nanoelectronics is a combination of pure electronic devices and circuits, and mechanical, chemical and biological devices that are combined with analogue peripheral circuits or RF circuits.
3. Beyond CMOS Sub-domain
This section, known as Spintronics or molecular electronics, is in fact a novel paradigm in the nanotechnology which operates based on the change of the spin, molecular state, and so forth. To obviate the physical constraints of the current semiconductor industry and to have access to the smaller dimensions of a matter, this class of nanoelectronics has created a parallel route to the CMOS technology to deal with this challenge. However, some factors such as cost per unit for manufacturing of chips or reliability are the limiting factors in this category. This category leads to the emergence of state-of-the-art nanoelectronic devices. At INEC, the following boundaries have been outlined for nanoelectronics:
- Nanomaterials and Nanostructures
- Metrology Methods/Equipment
- Simulation and Design
According to the conducted studies in the country and relying on the observation of global technology, market analysis and potential of the domestic and global markets, facilities and expertise of Iranian technicians and researchers, and competitive advantages of the country, it seems that beginning from the More than Moore domain will have a greater competitive advantage for the country.