The Helmholtz Nanoelectronic Facility, an advanced research and development center in the field of nanoelectronics, was constructed from 2011 to 2013.
The HNF is a cutting-edge cleanroom center built with Helmholtz Association funds of 11.7 Million Euros. Besides equipment already existing and financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research 13.6 Million Euros were invested into scientific equipment and operational infrastructure. The industry compatible equipment outfit comprises facilities for exposure, cleaning and inspection of wafers, the processing with ion beams (Ion Implanter, Tandetron) and more nanoelectronics fabrication technologies. In a so-called Nanofabrication and Epitaxy Cluster (NEC) a multitude of equipment for fabrication, processing and analysis of smallest structures on artificial crystals are centralized. Contamination-free transport of samples within the 6 meter by 10 meter sized vacuum facility is thus garanteed. By the modular construction it is assured that external users from industry and universities are able to work with their own eqipment brought along in the HNF.
"With the Helmholtz Nanoelectronic Facility Jülich is making a big step forward and is contribuing to further strengthening of the research competence in Germany. It is not only about a better understanding of semiconductor components of the established silicon technology, but also about materials and concepts for novel nano circuits", explained the Parlamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Thomas Rachel, member of the German Parliament, during the official groundbreaking ceremony. "I wish the HNF will develop towards a platform for the exchange of knowledge and know-how widely beyond the region of Jülich and Aachen and represent a good base for cooperation with our European partners."
One research line at the HNF will drive the well-tried CMOS technology in the industry-compatible 300-Millimeter wafer standard up to the limits of the physically feasible. But also trendsetting circuits based on novel oxides, spins, molecules and even living cells can already be field-tested in the HNF.
"As the central technology platform of the Helmholtz Association the HNF will however also be open for industry and universities", completed Prof. Sebastian M. Schmidt, member of the managing board of the Forschungszentrum Jülich.
"Together we will employ this potential among other things for increasing the energy efficiency of computer chips in the sense of 'Green IT'." The close partnership to the RWTH Aachen within the framework of the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA) plays a particular role. Here the competences of the partners in education and research are bundled in order to model the future and lay the basements of future information processing. In Jülich for instance the "strained silicon" class of materials has already been developed. By mechanical strain the crystal lattice of the silicon widens thus modifying its electronic properties: charges can move much faster through a transistor, the power consumption is decreased and the circuit becomes more energy-efficient.
Within the framework of the project DECISIF sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Jülich researchers are now building a bridge to a technology fit for application. The HNF is to make many more success stories of this kind possible in the future.