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The aim of the BEFOREHAND project was to develop chalcogenide-based heterostructures for processing and storage devices for embedding in automotive Internet of Things (IoT) smart systems.

Published on 27 April 2021

Boosting Performance of Phase Change Devices
by Hetero- and Nano-structure Material Design

The aim of the BEFOREHAND project was to develop chalcogenide-based heterostructures for processing and storage devices for embedding in automotive Internet of Things (IoT) smart systems.


Starting date : Jan. 2019 > Dec. 2021 

Lifetime: 36 months

Program in support : H2020 -ICT 2018 2020


Status project : in progress

CEA-Leti's contact :

Marie-Claire Cyrille

Yves Quéré


Project Coordinator: Forschungsverbund Berlin Ev (DE)


  • Forschungsverbund Berlin Ev, (DE)
  • CEA-Leti, ( FR)
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, (FR)
  • Consiglio Nazionale delle Richerche, (IT)
  • STMicroelectronics SRL, (IT)
  • Universita degli Studi di Milano Bicocca, (IT)
  • Universita degli Studi di Roma Torvergata, (IT)
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (NL)

Target market: n/a

Investment:  € 0.4 m.

EC Contribution€ 0.4 m.



  • The role of CEA-Leti has been to:
    • Develop a single cell vehicle to enable the electrical characterization of multilayered structures developped by BEFOREHAND partners
    • Define and transfer to partners PDI, CNR-IMM, URTOV, UGRO the most promising multilayer stacks on a 200 (or 300 mm) deposition tool. Composition and morphologic characterization will be carried out on deposited stacks (RBS, WDXRF, XRD, FTIR, TEM) and resistivity vs temperature will be used to characterize crystalline to amorphous transition
    • Fabricate the final demonstrator, integrating an optimized Phase Change Memory (PCM) heterostructure into CMOS wafers (130 nm node) above Metal 4 level. CEA-Leti plans to use its Memory Advanced Demonstrator platform to enable the fabrication of single devices as well as 1T1R and kbit up to Mbit arrays.

  • Results
    During the first year of the project, CEA-Leti has developed the single cell vehicle with Partner IMM. This involved fabricating small TiN-based heaters using e-beam lithography, reactive ion etching and chemical mechanical polishing. Heaters as small as 40nm in diameter were fabricated on 200mm wafers and delivered to the BEFOREHAND consortium for subsequent multilayer deposition. Complete devices are now under electrical testing.


  • The project aim has been to establish the foundations of new technology to be implemented in Electronic Smart System (ESS) networks exploiting the capability of phase-change materials to process and store data in the same physical location, specifically focusing on automotive applications. The ESS of the future should be able to sense its environment, store locally and process information as well as communicate with other objects in a network. The BEFOREHAND project targets
    production of processing/storage devices by developing new material combinations with the best material trade-off and benchmarked for automotive applications. A test vehicle will be used to compare the different materials. After assessment of the best material combination, a demonstrator with processing/storage capability will be implemented. Full appraisal of the demonstrator is planned on completion of the project. Integration in an embedded chip environment for automotive applications, along with scalability and reliability issues, will be evaluated. The project outcomes will be made public and used to schedule the first chip with embedded state-of-the-art technology to be implemented in the automotive sector; a direct impact on the Internet of Things (IoT) market is expected. BEFOREHAND will ensure practical realization of such a novel technological computing paradigm. It is a project that deeply involves material development, device preparation and functionality in relation to memory devices as well as data processing devices.


  • Strengthening of Europe leadership towards the development of PCM for automotive applications. Chalcogenide heterostructures developed in the BEFOREHAND project for processing/storage devices for embedding in automotive IoT smart devices have a disruptive future innovative potential, which may lead to breakthroughs at different technology levels from basic research beyond the state of the art to products themselves.