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Components | June 17, 2011

e-BRAINS research project report

September 2010 saw the launch of the European e-BRAINS (Best-Reliable Ambient Intelligent Nano Sensor Systems) research project in which Infineon Technologies AG is joining forces with 19 partners to conduct research into the integration of heterogeneous systems.
Led by Infineon and Fraunhofer EMFT (Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies), for the technical management, the project will run until the end of 2013. Nano-sensors will be combined with other components such as ICs (Integrated Circuits), power semiconductors, batteries or wireless communication modules in such a way as to significantly enhance energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, service life and reliability in the operation of e-BRAINS applications.

Vast improvement in the performance of existing applications in fields such as production monitoring, automotive or medical remote monitoring can be expected, courtesy of the e-BRAINS research results. By way of example, as a result of heterogeneous integration with other subsystems, an intelligent gas sensor in the car will need only a thousandth of its original volume, while its efficiency will increase 20-fold and it will cost only a fraction of the original price.

The deployment of nanotechnology will allow great improvements in functionality and will open the door to a wide range of applications. Future e-BRAINS applications will require significantly higher integration densities. The performance, multi-functionality and reliability of such complex heterogeneous systems are limited mainly by the wiring between the subsystems. 3D integration technologies overcome these drawbacks by enabling minimal interconnect lengths. 3D technologies permit processing various chips in vertically stacked relationship.

The feature sizes of microelectronic components are continually shrinking in order to reduce energy consumption or achieve higher switching speeds. However, as miniaturization continues its march of progress, the semiconductor industry is increasingly coming up against its physical limits. Growing system complexity is accompanied by higher risk of compromising switching speed. This explains the key role played by the heterogeneous integration of subsystems using 3D technology in which different components are vertically stacked and interconnect length is minimized.

The e-BRAINS project aims at sharpening the competitive edge of European companies by addressing a large variety of applications as medical, security and safety. The 19 technology partners of the research project are manufacturers with European production sites, Universities and Research institutes in Germany, Norway, Austria, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium and the UK. Infineon is responsible for the overall coordination of the e-BRAINS activities.

The research project is scheduled for completion at the end of 2013. The total budget is approximately 15.8 million Euros, of which 5.8 million Euros is financed by the partners from industry and research. The major share, 10 million Euros, is funded under the EU’s Seventh Framework Program for Research and Technological Development (FP7). The FP7 program contributes to the goal of the Lisbon Strategy to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world.

All the research-related EU initiatives playing a crucial role with regard to growth, competitiveness and employment are brought together under the FP7 umbrella. If the research is successful, the first e-BRAINS products may enter the market as soon as one to two years after project completion.

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