Emerging Devices For Computing: A Still-unexplored Landscape

October 16, 2015
Davis Auditorium (CEPSR 412)
Speaker: Thomas N. Theis, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center


The continuing evolution of silicon CMOS technology is clearly approaching some important physical limits. Since roughly 2003, the inability to reduce supply voltages according to constant-field scaling rules, combined with economic constraints on areal power density and total power, has forced designers to limit clock frequencies even as devices have continued to shrink. The device physics must change in a fundamental way if we are to realize faster digital logic with very low power dissipation. Recent years have brought a large increase in research funding and interest in such new device concepts. Some of the devices explored to date, such as tunneling FETs (TFETs) based on III-V semiconductors, promise to open a new low-power design space which is inaccessible to conventional FETs. Nanomagneticdevices may allow memory and logic functions to be combined in novel ways. And newer, perhaps more promising device concepts continue to emerge. Despite the growing research investment, the landscape of promising research opportunities outside the “FET box” appears to be vast and still largely unexplored.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Thomas Theisis on assignment from the IBM Corporation to serve as the Executive Director of the Semiconductor Research Corporation’s NanoelectronicsResearch Initiative (NRI), and is based at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. The NRI is a public-private partnership which supports university-based research aimed at new devices for computing. Tom received his B.S. in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1972 and his Ph.D. in physics from Brown University in 1978. He joined the IBM Watson Research Center in December of 1978 where he contributed to the fundamental understanding of the electronic properties of some technologically important materials. As a manager and technical strategist, he contributed to the development of technology products including IBM's introduction of copper wiring for integrated circuits in the late 1990's. As IBM’s world-wide director for research in the physical sciences from 1998 to 2010, he championed successful new research initiatives in nanoelectronics, nanophotonics, exploratory memory devices, quantum computing, and special projects addressing energy, the environment, and infrastructure. In June of 2010, he was named Program Manager, New Devices and Architectures for Computing, and assumed his present position in July of 2012. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and received the APS George E. Pakeprize in 2014. His current research focuses on new devices for computing and the physical principles by which such devices can evade certain fundamental limits of the field effect

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