DOE funds new research to advance computer chip technology

The Department of Energy (DOE) has selected an interdisciplinary team, including Cornell University, to advance a superconducting approach to advanced computer chip technology. The team will explore ways to use new superconducting materials and structures in ultra-energy-efficient superconducting digital (SCD) electronics for emerging artificial intelligence and quantum computing technologies.

Their project “Advanced Superconducting Integrated Processes Enabling Sustainable Hardware for AI and Quantum Computing” will receive a total investment of $73 million to accelerate new technologies from discovery to commercialization. It is one of 11 interdisciplinary peer-reviewed projects selected by the DOE for. This project is funded through the Accelerate initiative through DOE’s Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research and Office of Nuclear Physics.

The team is led by the DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and includes Cornell University as well as imec and the New York Center for Research, Economic Development, Technology, Engineering, and Science (NY CREATES). The team’s broad strengths include concept and design, basic materials development, process development and implementation, with Cornell contributing expertise in materials characterization.

Team member Katja Nowack is an assistant professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences and has extensive experience in characterizing superconducting materials. Her toolbox of techniques allows her to image the properties of these materials, allowing her to better tailor them for large-scale applications.

“My lab brings expertise in very unique ways to image relevant materials and structures,” Nowak said. “We specialize in a type of magnetic imaging at low temperatures that we typically use to explore emergent phenomena in quantum materials. But, coincidentally, our imaging also includes SCD electronics. “This is a critical need for advancing the kinds of technologies we pursue in this project.”

Having identified the key technology gaps currently hindering progress in digital superconducting electronics, the team’s approach is to make significant changes to existing manufacturing processes, including scalability.

The team aims to develop improved superconducting and barrier materials that exhibit better performance, can withstand higher processing temperatures, and are fully compatible with traditional electronics technology manufacturing processes. .

For large-scale applications such as AI running in data centers, superconducting materials can improve energy efficiency by a factor of 100, even after accounting for the overhead of closed-loop cryogenic systems for cooling. A superconducting digital logic chip (with appropriate modifications) could also be placed near the quantum computing chip to control and communicate with the quantum computing chip. This means this technology is important for enabling both quantum and classical computing in the future.

The larger goal of DOE’s Accelerate initiative is to foster innovation in basic research to extend and transition new materials and technologies into new products and capabilities, and strengthen the nation’s economic health and security.

“This research integrates new concepts and approaches into basic research inspired by the use of ” Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, director of the DOE Office of Science, said in the announcement. Subsidy. “Achieving these research goals will significantly accelerate innovation cycles that currently can take years to decades to realize.”

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