MIND receives contract extension

Author: William G. Gilroy

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The Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery (MIND) has received a contract extension for another two years. Led by the University of Notre Dame, MIND is a research consortium designed to discover and develop the next nanoscale logic device, which will be the basic building block of future computer technology.

MIND was established in 2008 by the Semiconductor Research Corporation’s Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), a national consortium of five major companies in the U.S. semiconductor manufacturing business that includes IBM, Intel, Micron, Texas Instruments and Global Foundries. The initiative also has funded centers at the University of Texas, UCLA and the University of Albany.

The $17.4 million in funding support for the initial, three-year MIND effort was provided by the NRI, the state of Indiana, the city of South Bend and the participating universities. The next phase of MIND, which is being titled “MIND 1.5” will be funded by NRI for two years at $1.1 million per year with additional cost sharing from the participating universities.

In addition to Notre Dame, MIND partner universities for the 1.5 phase include Purdue University, Penn State University, and University of Texas at Dallas.

Conventional microelectronic technology has relied on shrinking transistors to produce increasingly smaller, faster and cheaper devices ranging from cell phones and personal music devices to laptop computers. However, because the laws of physics prevent conventional devices from working below a certain size, this method is nearing its physical limits. The continued shrinking of transistors will lead to various problems with electric leakage, power consumption and heat.

NRI encouraged MIND to explore a wide variety of advanced devices, circuits and nanosystems with performance capabilities beyond conventional devices. Under the terms of the contract extension, NRI has asked MIND to focus on the two research approaches that show the greatest promise for replacing current transistor technology. Each of the other NRI centers also will be focusing on their top two technologies.

MIND researchers will focus on nanomagnetic logic devices and tunnel-field-effect-transistors (TFETs). Magnets are already being used in memory and data storage, but Notre Dame’s MIND researchers are demonstrating that nanomagents can be used for logic functions. TFETs are a special type of nanotransistor that are low-voltage semiconductor switches.

Contact: Robert Dunn, managing director, MIND, 574-631-9854, “rdunn@nd.edu”mailto:rdunn@nd.edu