ASCENT – July 2019
ASCENT delivered access to €2 billion of state-of-the-art facilities for global research projects
The €4.7 million European Union ASCENT programme provides access to the European nanoelectronics network, and has delivered 100 projects to researchers from 30 countries across the global research community over the last four years. ASCENT has built a community of over 400 researchers from the nanoelectronics modelling and characterisation research community and has provided free-of-charge access to the unique research infrastructure and expertise in three of Europe’s premier research centres.
ASCENT opened the doors to the world’s most advanced nanoelectronics infrastructures in Europe in May 2015, when leading European nanoelectronics institutes, Tyndall National Institute in Ireland, CEA-Leti in France and imec in Belgium, entered into this collaborative open-access project to mobilise European research capabilities like never before. Concluding at the end of July 2019, the programme has supported a total of 100 projects from transnational researchers involving customised nanofabrication, a broad range of nano-visualisation and electrical/physical characterisation projects as well as the provision of test wafers, from both imec and CEA-Leti, containing the very latest advanced nano-device technologies.
During the course of the programme ASCENT shared the best scientific and technological practices, formed a knowledge-innovation hub, trained new researchers in advanced methodologies and established a unique research network of advanced technology designers, modellers and manufacturers in Europe. All this helped to strengthen Europe’s knowledge in the integral area of nanoelectronics research.
Julie Donnelly, Programme Manager, Tyndall National Institute said: “The three partners each provided researchers with a unique opportunity to access advanced device data, test chips, fabrication facilities and characterisation equipment at Tyndall, imec and CEA-Leti. This enabled the research community to explore exciting new developments in industry and meet the challenges created in an ever-evolving and demanding digital world. During the programme we undertook an extensive promotion campaign including a series of workshops and a dedicated accelerator programme for PhD students in order to reach as many researchers as possible. The feedback from the users was always very positive and they valued the opportunity to have rapid free-of-charge access to our facilities and collaborate with our experts.”
The partners’ respective facilities are truly world-class, representing over €2 billion of combined research infrastructure with unique credentials in advanced semiconductor processing, nanofabrication, heterogeneous and 3D integration, electrical characterisation and atomistic and TCAD modelling. This is the first time that access to these state-of-the-art devices and test structures became available anywhere in the world.
The project engages industry directly through an ‘Industry Innovation Committee’ and fed back the results of the open research to device manufacturers, giving them crucial information to improve the next generation of electronic devices.
Advancing and broadening the first ASCENT programme, ASCENT+ will integrate additional key European infrastructures to address emerging research challenges in Nanoelectronics and enable a smooth consistent transition of the European industry to a new era. At present academic researchers and technologists struggle to develop industry-relevant disruptive technologies as there is limited access to state-of-the-art processing, modelling/data sets, metrology/characterisation, and devices/test structures for Nanoelectronics. Through the Single Entry Point and a user-focussed Access Interface, ASCENT+ integrates a unique research infrastructure of more than €2.5bn investment to offer these enabling capabilities to its users. ASCENT+ includes academic partners to advance the offering over the lifetime of this second Advanced Community phase, and also an extended network of over 3,700 members through partner research and industry cluster organisations. This will allow ASCENT+ to mobilise a critical mass of people, knowledge and investment to entrench an unprecedented integration within the community. This will service a much wider user base and foster innovation by linking new scientific knowledge in Nanoelectronics with challenge-driven research. European and global foresight studies have indicated that the next era is driven by the need to achieve: (i) quantum advantage using solid-state platforms; (ii) low-power, energy-efficient, high-performance computing based on disruptive devices; and (iii) increased functionality through advanced integration of a diverse range of materials and innovative technologies. ASCENT+ will enable and stimulate its user community to bridge the gap between scientific exploration and development of proof-of-concept technologies to accelerate innovation pathfinding. ASCENT+ presents a unique opportunity for Europe to regain global leadership in Nanoelelectronics at a pivotal time where traditional scaling is coming to an end.
Fast and easy access to the world’s most advanced CMOS technologies and infrastructure
Access to nanoscale CMOS device data, test chips and fabrication/characterisation facilities at Tyndall National Institute (Ireland), CEA-Leti (France), imec (Belgium), Fraunhofer Mikroelektronik (Germany) and INL (Portugal/Spain)
Access open to all researchers in universities, research centres, SMEs and industry
Opportunity to share best scientific and technological practices, form a knowledge–innovation hub, train new researchers and establish a nanoelectronics research network
Interface to global industrial leaders in nanoelectronics