The A*STAR's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) partners ten European Union research organisations to work on the groundbreaking €10 million ATMOL project that lays the foundation for creating and testing a molecular-sized processor chip. As a size comparison, a thousand of such molecular chips could fit into one of today's microchips, the core device that determines computational speed.
The ambitious project, termed Atomic Scale and Single Molecule Logic Gate Technologies (ATMOL), will establish a new process for making a complete molecular chip. This means that computing power could be increased significantly but take up only a small fraction of the space that is required by today's standards.
The fabrication process involves the use of three unique ultra high vacuum (UHV) atomic scale interconnection machines which build the chip atom-by-atom. These machines physically move atoms into place one at a time at cryogenic temperatures. One of these machines is located in A*STAR's IMRE.
“IMRE holds the only patent in the world for making solid interconnections and packaging of a molecular chip”, says Prof Christian Joachim, who is leading the entire project, explaining the reason A*STAR's IMRE was chosen as a partner in this project.
“The UHV interconnection machine at IMRE is the only one in the entire project that can study the performance of a single molecule logic gate and surface atom circuit logic gate at the moment”, added Prof Joachim, who is the Head of Molecular Nanoscience and Picotechnology at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), and a Visiting Investigator at IMRE. Prof Joachim's team in IMRE is one of the pioneers in atom technology, having built the world's first controllable molecular gear.
According to Dr. David Guedj, the European Officer following ATMOL for The European Commission, “ATMOL is the flagship project coming out of the recent Call for Proposals on Molecular Scale Devices and Systems". It was launched by the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET-Proactive) part of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) programme of the European Commission. FET-Proactive supports transformational, long-term collaborative frontier research in Europe, with a view to develop scientific excellence and technological innovation.
The project will officially commence on 1 January 2011.