Multi-million pound research programme will lead development of innovative nanotechnology that could open the door to a new generation of electronics.
The predominantly EPSRC-funded programme is led by Professor Themis Prodromakis from the University of Southampton, and honorary research fellow at Imperial, working with Dr Tim Constandinou and Dr Christos Papavassiliou from our Circuits and Systems group, together with Prof Piotr Dudek and Dr Dirk Koch from the University of Manchester, and an array of industrial partners.
The project will centre on memristors and their ability to enable electronics systems to be configured with increased capability, as opposed to transistors.
The power of memristors
Traditionally, computational processing power relies on integrated circuits (chips) with vast numbers of transistors – microscopic switches that control the flow of electrical current by turning it on or off. Though the size of transistors has reduced to meet the increasing demands of hardware technology, they are reaching their physical limit - for example, the processing chips that power smartphones contain several billion transistors.
Memristors, a simpler and smaller alternative to the transistor, are low-energy, and with their capability of altering resistance and storing multiple memory states – could potentially result in computers that switch on and off instantly and never forget.
This is something that has eluded CMOS technology and electronics in general, and will provide new opportunities for microelectronic design. Dr Constandinou says the project “will allow designers to push the envelope as to what is currently possible in terms of low power, reconfigurability, and distributed memory and processing.”
Packing more computational power in increasingly smaller areas and at ever lower power costs will unlock possibilities for applications including Internet-of-Things computing, smart medical implants, and radiation-resistant electronics. The team plan to develop and disseminate the core technology and design tools to the research community within three years, and then focus on application demonstrators - in wide collaboration with the international research community.
Professor Prodromakis will be focusing on the memristor/ReRAM device characterisation and fabrication process. Drs Constandinou and Papavassiliou will be responsible for the technology integration; co-creating the end-to-end design flow together with foundry and EDA tool partners and exploiting new possibilities in analogue circuit design. The researchers from the University of Manchester will focus on new paradigms in mixed-signal design and new fabrics for reconfigurable digital systems.
We look forward to hearing about their progress!
Find out more about the Circuits and Systems group
Read more about the Grant
Original reporting by The University of Southampton
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