High-throughput Discovery, Development, and Demonstration of Material Systems to Enable Low-power NEMS-based Computation
Although they have fueled a global technology revolution, the electronic transistors that lie at the heart of digital logic in computers are very energy-inefficient. Specifically, the electrically conducting contacting surfaces need to be able to open and close up to a quadrillion times without wearing out or becoming contaminated, and materials that can do this have not yet been developed. This project's objectives are: (1) to understand the failure mechanisms that occur in these switches; and (2) to discover and develop new materials and operating conditions with sufficient reliability. The approach will involve performing computational modeling of failure mechanisms at atomistic scales, and performing nanoscale microscopy experiments. Models and experiments will be integrated for high-throughput screening of materials. A large array of candidate materials will be canvassed, selecting those that possess required characteristics including electrical conductivity, wear resistance, and resistance to oxidation and buildup of contamination. The most promising ones will be tested in prototype nanoscale devices to ultimately identify materials and conditions that enable this new technology. This work will help maintain U.S. competitiveness in information technology by continuing technological progress in a key economic sector.