In order to meet the challenge of Moore's law, Intel has succeeded in reducing the feature size of its transistors to increase the speed of its devices. Intel started mass production of microprocessors with a feature size of less than 100nm in 2000, thus entering the era of nanotechnology. However, it is apparent that conventional feature size reduction, or scaling, can only take us so far with current materials and processes before we hit a wall at sub-10nm feature sizes. At this point, 'equivalent' scaling of devices through nanotechnology will emerge as the driving force behind Moore's Law. As part of its contribution to CRANN, Intel Ireland has provided five staff to the centre who are engaged in nanotechnology research. Peter Gleeson, Matt Shaw and Chris Murray work as Researchers-in-Residence based in TCD and UCC. Jenny Patterson is the Nanotechnology Program Manager. The products Intel Ireland manufacture in ten years will be based on fundamental research carried out today. Intel's involvement in CRANN is both recognition of the excellent research work underway in Irish universities and a commitment to add value to Intel Ireland through the groundbreaking application of nanotechnology.
Intel Ireland is the largest industrial partner in the CRANN project. Intel has been manufacturing various logic and memory products at its state of the art Irish fabs for over a decade. By successfully shrinking transistor size, we have been able to satisfy Moore's law which predicts computing density will double every two years. In order to continue to meet this aggressive roadmap, Intel recognizes the need for more advanced materials and processing capabilities in the coming years which go beyond 'conventional CMOS'. Nanotechnology in general offers many potential solutions to these future requirements. How can the incredible properties of novel materials such as nanotubes or nanowires be employed in our devices? Can we use templated self assembly to 'grow' nanoscale structures in place rather than use expensive lithographic techniques? Can the spin of the electron be used to switch a transistor more effectively than its charge at sub-10nm gate lengths? These important questions are being addressed by the three individual research projects being carried out by the Intel Researchers in Residence within CRANN. These Intel employees work within the university research groups, learning the theory and techniques necessary to make progress on the issues and providing an 'industrial' view on applications and requirements. One successful outcome of this relationship so far is the information exchange between the university groups and Intel's Materials Analysis labs. Another important outcome has been the realization of substrates from the 'Adaptive Grid' project. This project is truly multi-disciplinary in nature and aims to identify and overcome key challenges associated with the integration of top-down and bottom-up fabrication of processor type architectures, with a near-term focus in enabling the benchmarking of a range of nano-materials (e.g. materials formed by different process methods). To date expertise has been combined from the scientists in CRANN, with designers and fabrication engineers, integrators, and technicians in Intel Ireland to realise the first revision of a silicon substrate which will allow much more reliable testing of materials such as carbon nanotubes. This will provide a huge research advantage to CRANN for enhancements in place ability, contact ability, testability, and reproducibility of measurements.
Intel Ireland's participation in CRANN is both a commitment to nanotech solutions to future industry needs and recognition of the outstanding research work being carried out in Irish universities. Leonard Hobbs, overall Manager of Silicon Research at Intel Ireland says "Intel is delighted to have been involved in the CRANN team from the start. We recognise the unique advantage of collaborating with world class researchers in an area of strategic importance to our business and we look forward to continued success in collaborating with this international research institute."