Research factory for quantum and neuromorphic computing launched - Fraunhofer IMWS is member of the joint project
In an increasing number of technologies and applications, such as the calculation of traffic flows and production lines, the simulation of chemical processes, e.g. for the development of new drugs, or powerful batteries for electromobility, conventional microprocessors are reaching the limits of their performance. For the processes required for this, such as machine learning, edge data processing or the optimization of complex systems, new types of computing technologies, namely "next generation computing", are necessary. Quantum neuro-computing forms the essential basis for the development of these technologies.
To expand and bundle microelectronics research structures in Germany, the 13 institutes of the Forschungsfabrik Mikroelektronik Deutschland (FMD) launched a joint project with the four Fraunhofer Institutes IMWS, IOF, IPM and ILT, Forschungszentrum Jülich and the AMO GmbH on December 1, 2022: The "Research Factory Microelectronics Germany - Module Quantum and Neuromorphic Computing", FMD-QNC for short. The project aims to advance microelectronic research and development for novel computing technologies such as quantum and neuromorphic computing and to accelerate their transfer to industrial applications.
The Fraunhofer IMWS bring its core competencies in microstructure diagnostics and microstructure-based design of new materials into the project. The institute focuses on nanostructure-based process characterization and fault diagnostics of QNC semiconductor structures and devices, including microelectronic control electronics and the packaging of integrated circuits.
High-resolution, aberration-corrected, analytical (S)TEM of the latest generation will come to use here. This type of electron microscopy allows a targeted view down to the atomic microstructure of the complex nanoscale QNC functional structures and contact interfaces. This will include locating individual atoms, characterizing them by vibrational spectroscopy, discriminating isotopes, investigating critical growth defects at the atomic scale, and analyzing bonding states. In this way, morphological aspects (dimensionality, shape fidelity, etc.), the distribution of elements and process-related contamination can be investigated, technological weak points and reliability risks be identified at an early stage, thus significantly reducing the development time of QNC components.
The FMD-QNC project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and is complemented at the European level by the "PREVAIL" project, which will start at the same time. In the latter project, four research organizations CEA-Leti, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, imec and VTT are collaborating to create a networked 300-mm technology platform to produce chip prototypes for advanced artificial intelligence and neuromorphic computing applications
The planned project activities within "PREVAIL" and "FMD-QNC" will be synergetically linked and are important preparations for the technological foundation of the "European Chips Act".