PORTLAND, Ore. -- Moving nano-electronics out of the research and development lab and into manufacturing is the goal of the National Science Foundation's NEEDS initiative. Started late last year with $3.5 million from NSF, Nano-Engineered Electronic Device Simulation (NEEDS) got a boost today with an additional $2.5 million thanks a partnership with the Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) who added $1 million to the pot along with an additional $1.5 million from the NSF for the five-year program.
NEEDS will produce "open source" platforms, compact SPICE-compatible models and educational resources, which it will make available free-of-charge on the NEEDS portal at the Network for Computational Nanotechnology's (NCN's) NanoHUB. NEEDs is a node on NCN, which is a part of the strategic U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).
"NEEDS is all about moving from nano-science to nano-technology," said Purdue University professor Mark Lundstrom, lead scientist on NEEDS. "The most exciting part is our team, many of whom have pioneered nano-science at the device and materials level and who now want to get connected to applications. NEEDS is connecting them with experts in circuits and simulations, and together we will develop an open-source model-development platform that enables anyone to hand-off their designs to manufacturing."
Besides SRC and Purdue, NEEDS will also enjoy contributions from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, where the open-source model-development platform was originally conceived.
"Moving from individual devices to circuits and systems is critical to the success of the National Nanotechnology Initiative," said Lynn Preston, NCN program team leader at NSF. "Compact models are the critical link between
individual devices and working circuits. NEEDS will provides the necessary open-source platform to bridge the gap."
Today SPICE (simulation program with integrated circuit emphasis) is the standard simulation environment for integrating newly designed electronic components into working circuits, enabling designers to perform trial-and-error in software before committing to hardware prototypes. Once the SPICE simulations are debugged, designs can be handed off to manufacturing where process technologies are tweaked to produce the desired results already working in the simulator. Instead of reinventing the wheel, NEEDS will build on the SPICE foundation by creating libraries of nanoscale devices, along with the aforementioned model-development platform, which will allow any scientist with a newly invented nanoscale components to create a SPICE-compatible model for manufacturing.
NEEDS aims to bring make experimental devices manufacturable, like this Band-to-Band-Tunneling transistor that operates on physical principles different than traditional transistors. SOURCE: Mathieu Luisier, Gerhard Klimeck (Purdue University)
"The ability to develop predictive models that show how nanoscale components will work together in circuits is essential for nanotechnology designers," said Kwok Ng, senior director of device sciences at SRC. "NEEDS will allow designers to model novel new devices and the circuits using them in a consistent organized environment."
The NEEDS+SPICE development environment will also model new materials, such as carbon derivatives like graphene, as well as offer lists of best practices, hints and tips. Newly developed models using NEEDS will run in both open-source and the many commercial SPICE-compatible simulation platforms used today. An initial prototype of NEEDS is slated to be available for public comments by the end of 2013.