Speeding innovation for industry
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Researchers at Leti, a CEA Tech institute, successfully co-integrated a CMOS circuit and NEMS. The next stage is to ready the nano-sized systems for industrial-scale manufacturing and, ultimately, use in biological testing and gas analysis.
With uses ranging from gas analysis for industrial and indoor air quality control and monitoring through to mass spectrometry to detect viruses and bacteria, the market potential of nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) is undisputed. However, the tiny systems need to be made more sensitive and selective before the technology can be scaled up.
Leti researchers recently combined a NEMS with a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuit, marking a substantial step toward this goal. "Nanoelectromechanical systems can identify a molecule by measuring variations in resonant frequency, but because of their nanometric size they need to measure minute variations as precisely as possible. The best way of doing this is still to combine a NEMS with a CMOS circuit. You get the best possible measurement of the NEMS' electrical signal, plus you can add complex on-chip signal processing."
Easier said than done! NEMS and CMOS fabrication processes are different, and both entail multiple steps. Leti researchers combined their microelectronics know-how and unique and world-renowned NEMS expertise to integrate a NEMS on a CMOS circuit, opening up a host of new possibilities. It will be exciting to see where this breakthrough leads!
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.