As VLSI device downscaling nears atomic dimensions, traditional charge-based devices face huge challenges. As a result, the last years have seen the advent of a surge in so-called beyond-CMOS device concepts which are mostly non-charge based. One of these promising directions is the plasmonic wave computing paradigm. In that case, the light waves traveling through a metal-insulator-metal waveguide can be exploited for highly parallel wave computing as long as the coherency is maintained. Furthermore, the inherent energy, efficiency and speed of these waveguides are excellent. A successful implementation of this paradigm however also requires an energy-efficient and fast (THz range) electronic interface circuit to bridge multiple of such plasmonic waveguides.
Several initial results at KU Leuven ESAT-MICAS clearly indicate to feasibility of using CMOS technology to generate and detect THz waves. By exploiting the non-linear behavior of transistors, operation above fmax becomes possible and several examples up to 600GHz have already been demonstrated in 28nm CMOS. This clearly indicates the potential of building such very high frequency circuits at reasonable power consumption. However, these concepts have never been transferred to the domain of plasmonic wave computing.
The aim of this PhD thesis will be threefold: i) investigate innovative THz circuits for interfacing with plasmonic waveguides, with the appropriate specifications derived from the existing waveguide designs, ii) explore and propose novel circuit extensions which allow to work at ultra-low voltages and ultra-low power, to achieve maximal energy efficiency iii) demonstrate these concepts in prototype silicon implementations.
Required background: electrical engineering
Type of work: 10% literature, 50% circuit design work, 40% modeling and simulations
Supervisors: Patrick Reynaert (KU Leuven - ESAT-MICAS), Francky Catthoor (imec)
Daily advisor: Wouter Steyaert (KU Leuven - ESAT-MICAS)
The reference code for this PhD position is STS1712-05. Mention this reference code on your application form.