Our chair is significantly involved in 4 of 9 paths of the Cluster of Excellence Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfAED).
Information processing is currently dominated by complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. Since the 1960s the advancements in electronics due to scaling of integration densities along Moore's law have established a general expectation for very short innovation cycles with ever-new application possibilities. Indeed, the huge advancement of electronics over the past decades has been the driving force for innovation in various application fields and has significantly shaped the world we live in today. As CMOS technology is reaching atomic boundaries, it increasingly fails to deal with the negative impacts on device behavior due to shrinkage (short channel effects, leakage, etc.), and Moore's law is projected to end. Thus, it is accepted that long-term innovation in electronics cannot be based solely on higher planar integration densities. Instead, new ways must be found to address current and future challenges of electronic information processing systems: physical size, speed, energy efficiency, new functionality, self-assembly/-organization, adaptivity, resilience, cost.
Currently, there is still room for improvement in CMOS technology and industry roadmaps reach out to 2022. The past decade has seen significant advances in new materials, which have led to many promising discoveries. While material research needs to continue, some discoveries have now reached a point that warrants exploring device fabrication, circuits, and information processing systems for potential applications. As CMOS scaling is projected to end soon after 2020, industry will stop being preoccupied with advancing CMOS and will eagerly look out for new ideas. Given these two developments, we believe that university-based research now has a unique opportunity to integrate discoveries on new materials and technological innovations with the potential for advancing electronic information processing beyond 2020.
Specifically, it is the vision of cfAED that future CMOS technology will be complemented with new technologies (augmented CMOS), resulting in heterogeneous architectures to form highly efficient information processing environments.
Already today, impairments of the underlying semiconductor technology (e.g., probabilistic device behavior) have to be compensated by robust system designs compromising the achievable performance increases. Thus, high impact breakthroughs that are based on new materials can only be achieved if complete system solutions are considered: from materials all the way to large-scale integrated processing systems. We therefore comprehensively address all three Abstraction Layers: Materials & Functions, Devices & Circuits, and Information Processing.
It is the unique approach of our Cluster of Excellence to drive forward several different technology candidates, inspired by new materials, to a state where information processing becomes possible and to prepare for their integration in heterogeneous large-scale processing systems. We refer to our research areas as Research Paths to highlight the exploratory dynamic character in search of breakthroughs. By implementing this more shots on goal approach, we want to maximize the chances for high impact technological breakthroughs and will greatly benefit from the various possibilities for cross-fertilization between the Paths.