Memories are an essential building block for all electronic systems and great efforts are being made by the industry and academia to improve existing technologies and to invent new ones. Non-volatile data storage is leading the electronics industry today, accounting for over 80% of all transistors manufactured. An ever-expanding and diverse range of applications, such as mobile phones, personal computers, data centers and machine learning, drives a relentless increase in memory density. Advanced 3-dimensional NAND flash memory technologies have reached bit densities of 5 Giga bit per mm2 and continued density scaling would reach bit densities of 256 Gb/mm2 by 2028. A single memory chip of 75 mm2 would hold more than 2 Tera Byte of data and the effective bit area would be as small as 4 nm2. It is widely believed that this is the limit of conventional solid-state memories and further scaling would no longer be cost efficient.
Hence, radically new concepts of data storage and data access are needed. Prominent amongst the few available options is the storage of atomic or molecular scale objects because many can be stacked in small volumes and maintain data integrity over many years. In contrast to electrical charge, which can be transported easily through metallic wires, the manipulation of mass objects will require transport in liquids. Therefore, suitable data storage objects need to be identified, and methods to manipulate them need to be developed and studied. Possible solutions can be envisaged using nanometer sized particles or large molecules, which can be manipulated by electrochemical, electrophoretic or electrokinetic methods. What will be the storage element? What are suitable read-write techniques? How can we provide enough retention time? These are some the questions that need to be answered.
Imec is soliciting enthusiastic PhD candidates to explore non-volatile data storage technologies of the future. The goal of this PhD is to develop and demonstrate ultra-high-density memory cell concepts based on nanofluidics. A thorough literature study will be a first step to investigate different concepts, explore their limits and potential and identify promising avenues. Following steps will be the modelling, design and validation of these new devices using TCAD, layout of test structures, implementation of the device into semiconductor processes in collaboration with our technology experts, development of the required measurement techniques and the characterization of the fabricated devices.
Required background: Electrical engineering, material science, solid-state physics, electrochemistry, micro- and nanofluidics or related
Type of work: 15% literature, 50% experimental fabrication and characterization work, 35% modelling work
Supervisor: Pol Van Dorpe
Daily advisor: Antonio Arreghini, Wim Van Roy
The reference code for this position is 2020-022. Mention this reference code on your application form.