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TwinLab – A Research Collaboration between the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi and Technische Universität Dresden

On April 12, 2012, the Abu Dhabi-Saxony Partnership Committee and a Saxon delegation led by the Chief of the State Chancellery and State Minister of the Free State of Saxony, Dr. Johannes Beermann, inaugurated in Abu Dhabi the joint research project TwinLab between the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi and Technische Universität Dresden. The two research labs of the TwinLab will carry out research on a topic of economic interest for the semiconductor industry, namely the design and manufacturing of 3D chip stacks.

Back in 2011, the governments of Abu Dhabi and Saxony decided to strengthen their cooperation and initiated several working groups with the aim to elaborate mutually beneficial cooperation opportunities. The working group “Research & Development”, jointly coordinated by Prof. G. Fettweis and Sami Issa, developed the idea to establish a research twin lab with one site in Abu Dhabi and one in Saxony. Both sites will be of similar size, initially staffed with ten to twelve graduate and/or Ph.D. students. One intention of the project is to promote the exchange between the researchers. It is anticipated that researchers based in Dresden will work in the Emirates for a few months and the researchers from Abu Dhabi will come to Dresden.

Gerhard Fettweis, Professor and Head of the Vodafone Chair Mobile Communications Systems at TU Dresden and one of the founders of the TwinLab has ambitious plans for his project: “The Lab is to be construed as catalyst for wider and deeper cooperation in the future. Our TwinLab is the first jointly established research project of its kind. We hope that our lab will develop successfully and become a model for other TwinLabs tackling further challenging research topics of mutual interest.” 
Scientists of the TwinLab will be working on a 3D integration of several chips into a vertical stack – a research topic of high economic interest for the semiconductor industry which is expected to be the next fundamental innovation push for microelectronics.

Today, chips are placed laminary (2D) to build complex structures which takes up a relatively large area of space. However, modern applications require even smaller and more efficient components. Therefore, scientists around Prof. Gerhard Fettweis and Steve Griffiths (Masdar Institute, Abu Dhabi) want to build “chip stacks”. Through this 3D-construction principle it will be possible to integrate more chips per area and to integrate chips of different semiconductor technologies. Additionally, more sufficient power usage can be achieved, i.e. energy losses can be reduced leading to significant energy savings. Another even more import advantage is the much higher data rate which can be achieved because the single chips are much closer to each other so that signals transmitted between them have much shorter ways. In particular, Through Silicon Vias (TSVs), the electrical connection between metal and wafer silicon, play a very special role in 3D chip stacks. The goal is to develop modules (design blocks) for high-rate interfaces between multiple chips in a semiconductor chip stack. These interfaces need to be well adapted to the material properties as well as to the line routing in the chip stack. To reach this goal, the project will investigate the interfaces and line routing for high-speed communication networks in 3D-integrated chips. This includes a thorough characterization of possible interface techniques (copper lines, optical wave guides, and wireless coupling), different semiconductor technologies (SOI, SiGe, etc.) and two types of TSVs (face-to-face and back-to-face).

The desirable outcomes of the TwinLab project are new 3D technologies that can be transferred easily into industry. But until then, researchers will face a variety of scientific challenges which have to be resolved over the coming years. On the Saxon side of the TwinLab group, which is led by Professor Gerhard Fettweis, an ESF (Europäischer Sozialfond) Young Investigators Group “3D Chip Stack Intraconnects” started on March 1. The group consists of ten young high-potential researchers supervised by the professors Fettweis, Bartha, Ellinger, Plettemeier, and Schüffny of TU Dresden. The Abu Dhabi side of the TwinLab will complement the research done in Dresden to explore and illustrate the minimum-energy/low-power features of 3D integrated microelectronics in a variety of computing, communication, storage and sensing design contexts.

Media contact:
Technische Universität Dresden
Prof. Gerhard Fettweis
phone: +49 351 463-41000

Last modified: 20.04.2012 13:33
Author: Pressestelle (Zuständig für die Presseinformationen) expired

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