SKYTOP – ‘Skyrmion-Topological Insulator and Weyl Semimetal Technology’

Coordinator: Dr. Athanasios Dimoulas

Active since 1/11/2018; Duration 48 months


 Website:  Twitter: @EuSkytop

The overall objective in SKYTOP is to make cross-fertilization between different topological classes of materials to realize devices with intertwined electronic spin and topology. In particular, in this project the aim is to combine two “topological classes”, one existing in real space associated with skyrmions and a second one defined in the reciprocal space associated with topological insulators (TI) and Weyl semimetals (WSM). The project consists of the following technical objectives:

  1. Develop thin film TI-technology and exploratory research on topological WSM;
  2. Develop a functional TI/Weyl-Skyrmion media platform
  3. Demonstrate TI/Weyl-Skyrmion based devices.

The main idea is to take advantage of the strong charge-to-spin conversion effect anticipated in TI with strong spin orbit coupling (SOC) to nucleate and control the skyrmion dynamics. SKYTOP proposes skyrmion-based bio-inspired devices and reconfigurable filters with enhanced efficiency and new functionality that could lead to a paradigm shift in ultra-dense low power nanoelectronics. SKYTOP will also expected to open a route for exploitation of the emerging Weyl semimetal materials which are currently being investigated at the basic research level.

BeFerroSynaptic –‘BEOL technology platform based on ferroelectric synaptic devices for advanced neuromorphic processors’

Scientific Director: Dr. Athanasios Dimoulas

Active since 1/1/2020; Duration: 36 months

Funding: HORIZON 2020 /Industrial Leadership

       Website:      Twitter: @BeFerroSynaptic

The increasing amount of data that has to be processed in today’s electronic devices requires a transition from the conventional compute centric paradigm to a more data centric paradigm. In order to bridge the existing gap between memory and logic units that is known as the classical von Neumann bottleneck the concept of physical separation between computing and memory unit has to be repealed. Neuro inspired architectures constitute a promising solution where both logic and memory functionality become synergized together in one synaptic unit. Our project BeFerroSynaptic addresses the specific challenges of the H2020-WP 2018-2020 by targeting for the development of electronic synaptic devices based on one of the most power-efficient memory technologies – the ferroelectric polarization switching. The ultimate goal of the BeFerroSynaptic project is to develop a ‘ferrosynaptic’ technology platform featuring back-end-of-line (BEOL) integrated Hf(Zr)O2-based ferroelectric field-effect transistors (FeFETs) and ferroelectric tunnelling junctions (FTJs) on top of an existing CMOS technology. Our attempt is to demonstrate the feasibility (TRL 4) of the ‘ferrosynaptic’ concept in an extremely energy-efficient neuromorphic computing architecture. To ensure a realistic endeavour, the ambitious challenges will be tackled by building the complementary FTJ and FeFET device development on existing technologies and adapt it to BEOL integration on top of a CMOS technology, and building on existing neuromorphic processor designs that will be adapted to the ‘ferrosynaptic’ technology. The BeFerroSynaptic consortium assembles a significant amount of resources and expertise. It includes representatives both from the academic and research community as well as from industry. The consortium is composed of 11 partners, of which 5 RTOs partners (CEA, NaMLab, NCSRD, IUNET, HZB), 4 universities (UZH, ETH, UNIBI, TUD as project consultant) and 2 industrial partners (X-FAB, IBM).

3εFERRO– ‘Energy Efficient Embedded Non-volatile Memory Logic based on Ferroelectric Hf(Zr)O2’

Scientific Director: Dr. Athanasios Dimoulas

Active since 1/1/2018; Duration 42 months

Funding: HORIZON 2020 /Industrial Leadership

          Website: Twitter: @3eFerro

Edge computing requires highly energy efficient microprocessor units (MCU) with embedded non-volatile memories (eNVM) to process data at the source that is the IoT sensor node. eFLASH technology is limited by low write speed, high power and low endurance. Alternative fast, low power and high endurance eNVM could greatly enhance energy efficiency and allow flexibility for finer grain of logic and memory. FeRAM has the highest endurance of all emerging NVMs. However, perovskite-based eFeRAM is incompatible with Si CMOS, does not easily scale and has manufacturability and cost issues.

We introduce new ferroelectric material Hf(Zr)O2 to make FeRAM competitive NVM candidate for IoT. HfO2 compatibility with Si processing will facilitate integration, improve manufacturability and allow better scaling. Different cell architectures based on capacitors or ferroelectric FETs will give unprecedented flexibility for “fine-grained” logic –in-memory (LiM) circuits, which allows data storage close to logic circuits, reduces energy cost of data transfer and allows smart gating for “normally-off” computing.
The project is built around four objectives:

  1. Optimization of Materials,
  2. LiM design & architecture,
  3. Integration of Hf(Zr)O2 -based NVM arrays,
  4. Memory test & validation & benchmarking.

The work calls on the full spectrum of expertise from advanced materials synthesis and characterization, processing, design and integration and benchmarking to make substantial progress towards a truly disruptive energy efficient memory and logic technology.

A team of 8 partners, including a major European semiconductor company, the leader in the field of ferroelectric HfO2 and a large technology laboratory, originating from 5 EU states, will join forces to deliver experimental demonstrators creating the opportunity for the EU industry to establish a dominant position in IoT innovative components market and make an impact on the future roadmap for embedded systems and applications.

SMART-X– ‘Study of carrier transport in materials by time-resolved spectroscopy with ultrashort soft X-ray light’

Scientific Director: Dr. Athanasios Dimoulas

Active since 1/3/2020; Duration: 48 months

Funding: HORIZON 2020 /MSCA-ITN

The EU-funded SMART-X network of researchers from different scientific disciplines are working to train early career scientists to vastly improve the state of X-ray ultrafast spectroscopy. The project will focus on investigating charge carrier dynamics in new materials used in energy supply and storage. The network will recruit 15 early stage researchers to work towards the ambitious goal of developing tabletop X-ray ultrafast spectroscopy in the condensed phase. Training will include a unique combination of projects, secondments, and tailored courses provided by eight world-leading academic institutions, two large scale facilities and two high-tech companies.

MELoDICA – ‘Disclosing the potential of transition metal dichalcogenides for thermoelectric applications through nanostructuring and confinement’

Scientific Director: Dr. Athanasios Dimoulas

Active since 1/4/2018; Duration 36 months

      Funding: ERA-NET /FLAG-ERA


Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) offer a huge flexibility in tuning electronic properties, indeed, their electronic structure is found to change dramatically from bulk to few monolayers samples. Moreover, some TMDs exhibit potentially remarkable bulk thermoelectric (TE) behavior, which may be further improved in few monolayers thick nanostructures, according to theoretical predictions. On the other hand, TMD flakes can be produced by liquid phase exfoliation of their bulk counterpart by using scalable and cheap methods and restacked nano-flake assemblies may offer ideal nanostructured morphology that effectively scatters phonon of different wavelengths, thus suppressing lattice thermal conductivity, typically in the range of tens Wm-1K-1 at room temperature in single flakes, and improving TE performances. The aim of our proposal is to explore the potential of these features – i.e. electronic confinement and nanostructured morphology – in view of enhanced TE performance of these systems for applications in energy conversion. We will prepare TMDs (e.g. MoTe2, ZrSe2, MoS2, MoSe2, WSe2, WTe2, HfSe2, SnSe2, HfTe2 …) in different forms, namely bulk single crystals, epitaxial ultrathin films and heterostructures (grown by molecular beam epitaxy), nanoflakes (obtained by liquid phase exfoliation and subsequent ink-jet printing and drop-casting). In these samples, we will measure electric, thermoelectric and thermal transport properties. In TMD ultrathin films and heterostructures, we will focus on the possibility of tuning TE properties via thickness. In assembled flake patterns, we will further explore the effect of confinement, but also address phonon engineering by nanostructural configurations, in terms of suitable distribution of thickness and size, as well as proper inter-flake connectivity. In parallel, deeper insight will be gained by carrying out theoretical calculations of electric, thermoelectric and thermal transport properties, focusing on the effects of confinement and presence of interface thermal resistances. Our investigation starts from the optimization of the sample preparation processes and it proceeds by combining experimental measurements and theoretical calculations, eventually aiming to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the physical mechanisms into play and a realistic assessment of TMDs as TE materials for device applications such as TE micro-coolers, on the basis of our own experimental results, as well as of the estimated edge of improvement possibly yet achievable.