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IBM, ETH Zrich establish nanotech lab

Posted: 27 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:nanotech laboratory? spintronics? CMOS research?

IBM Corp. and the ETH Zrich University have partnered to jointly build a nanotechnology research laboratory that will cover technologies for the post-CMOS era such as carbon-based materials, nano photonics, spintronics, nanowires and tribology.

While the CMOS era, according to the semiconductor industry roadmap, will last another 10 to 15 years, the scientists are already working on a replacement for the venerable transistor.

IBM said the basic switching element of the future could possibly have a completely different architecture. "Spintronics opens new perspectives," an IBM spokesperson said. "However, we are only in the phase of exploring the fundamental mechanisms. It can take another 10 to 20 years until these effects can be used in an industrial scale." Other topics for the researchers in the nanolab include molecular electronics and graphenes, while carbon nanotubes are explored at IBM's Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights.

The nanotech laboratory is an offspring of IBM's Zrich Research Labs (ZRL) where Wolfgang Gerhard Binning and Heinrich Rohrer developed the scanning tunneling microscopean achievement for which the duo in 1986 has been awarded the Physics Nobel Award. The new nano lab is also located at the ZRL in R�schlikon near Zrich.

The investment has a volume of $90 million, one third of which will be spent for technical equipment, the university said is a media statement. Groundbreaking is scheduled for Q2 09; the research activities will begin in 2011. The lab will have a footprint of 6,000m? including a 900m? clean room. The strategic partnership between IBM and the ETH is planned to endure at least 10 years.

With the move, both entities hope to gather scientific insights for novel applications in the realms of information and communication technology, sensors, life sciences and material sciences.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times Europe

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