MEDIA RELEASE "ATMOL"
Singapore’s A*STAR and European Union (EU) to jointly create a processor that is the size of a molecule
• A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) is the only non-EU partner of the 11 organisations working together on a groundbreaking EU-funded $10 million (7M€) project that lays the foundation for creating and testing a molecular-sized processor chip.
A*STAR’s IMRE and 10 EU research organisations are working together to build and test what is essentially a single molecule processor chip. As a comparison, a thousand of such molecular chips could fit into one of today’s microchips, which is the core device that determines the computational speed, thus massively increasing computing power but taking up only a fraction of the space.
The ambitious project will establish a new process for making a complete molecular chip with fully packaged and interconnected planar atomic scale complex logic circuits, which is capable of computation. The single molecule and circuits are interconnected by atomic or molecular wires constructed with atomic precision, making it probably the smallest computer chip in the world.
The three unique ultra high vacuum (UHV) atomic scale interconnection machines that are capable of doing the job of building the chip atom-by-atom are involved in the project. One of these machines, which are literally used to physically move atoms into place one at a time 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 IMRE was chosen as a partner in this groundbreaking project.
“The UHV interconnection machine at IMRE is the only one in the whole project at the moment that can study the performance of a single molecule logic gate and surface atom circuit logic gate”, added Prof Joachim, the Head of Molecular Nanoscience and Picotechnology at the French Centre National de la Recherché Scientifique (CNRS), and a Visiting Investigator at IMRE, where an Atom Technology Programme is based. Prof Joachim’s team in IMRE is one of the pioneers in the field of atom technology having built the world’s first controllable molecular gear this last year.
“The work in this project is extremely important in setting the stage for how computer chips and electronics may be made in the future”, said Prof Andy Hor, Executive Director of IMRE who added that the lessons learnt from the project will help IMRE in developing materials for room temperature applications and their corresponding mass fabrication processes of molecular chips for eventual industrial adoption.
Reiterating these views Dr Raj Thampuran, Executive Director for A*STAR’s Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), which oversees physical sciences and engineering research said, “The fact that we are the only non-EU research organisation in this project speaks volumes about the level of Singapore’s research and how far we have come in building our R&D capabilities”.
ATMOL is the flagship project coming out of the recent Call for Proposals on "Molecular Scale Devices and Systems", 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.
As part of the project, annual EU-funded conferences will be held to bring together all partners in the project for progress updates with the inaugural one being held in Singapore next year. The project will officially commence on 1 January 2011.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Mr Eugene Low
Manager, Corporate Communications
for Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE)
3, Research Link
DID +65 6874 8491
Mobile +65 9230 9235
For technical enquiries, please contact:
Prof Christian Joachim
Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE)
3, Research Link
DID +65 6874 8145
About the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE)
Established in September 1997, IMRE has built strong capabilities in materials analysis, characterisation, materials growth, patterning, fabrication, synthesis and integration. IMRE is an institute of talented researchers equipped with state-of-the-art facilities such as the SERC nanofabrication, Processing and Characterisation facility to conduct world-class materials science research. Leveraging on these capabilities, R&D programmes have been established in collaboration with industry partners. These include research on organic solar cells, nanocomposites, flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), solid-state lighting, nanoimprinting, microfluidics and next generation atomic scale interconnect technology.
For more information about IMRE, please visit www.imre.a-star.edu.sg
About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is the lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation-driven Singapore. A*STAR oversees 14 biomedical sciences, and physical sciences and engineering research institutes, and seven consortia & centres, which are located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis, as well as their immediate vicinity.
A*STAR supports Singapore's key economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry. It also supports extramural research in the universities, hospitals, research centres, and with other local and international partners.
For more information about A*STAR, please visit www.a-star.edu.sg.