Research

Electronic Materials & Devices

The Electronic Materials and Devices Research Group has expertise ranging from materials process development to electronic devices, circuits and systems for embedded applications.

This includes the creation and characterisation of nanoelectronic systems and the study of bio-inspired devices, which borrows evolutionary solutions from the natural world and applies them in the design and creation of emerging technologies. Current research topics include functional materials, memristive devices, nanofabrication and devices for advanced computing architectures and biomedical applications.

We focus on solving real-world problems using manufacturing techniques that are compatible with today’s commercial techniques. For example, to manufacture memristors, ultrahigh-density resistive memory chips based on transition metal-oxides, we use nano-imprint lithography to achieve small feature sizes down to 1nm, quickly, reliably and at a relatively low cost. These memristors are the building blocks for computer chips that, like the brain, can process and store information using the same hardware. They will lead to next-generation data storage and neuromorphic computing, technologies more powerful, faster and smaller than today’s systems.

In collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, our research is also exploring cutting-edge neural interfaces, linking biological functions, electronics and biomimetic cell-culturing platforms to enable the positional manipulation and morphology of cardiac cells in-vitro. Our work in fabrication process development is exploring the manufacturing of low-cost, point-of-care diagnostics using printed circuit board (PCB) techniques. The project is in collaboration with Newbury Electronics, a leading UK-manufacturer of PCBs, and Imperial College Healthcare NHS which is currently conducting clinical trials for diagnosing Tuberculosis (TB).

Cutting-edge and novel fabrication and characterisation techniques are core to the research of the group and we are pushing the boundaries of the equipment and processes used in the Zepler Institute’s cleanroom facility. These world-class facilities make it possible for us to innovate.

A new generation of electronics

For example, we are leading the development of innovative nanotechnology that could open the door to a new generation of electronics. Working with Imperial College London and the University of Manchester, as well as industrial partners, our £11M EPSRC-funded project focuses on memristors and their ability to enable electronics systems to be configured with increased capability, as opposed to transistors.

Traditionally, the processing of data in electronics has relied on integrated circuits (chips) featuring vast numbers of transistors – microscopic switches that control the flow of electrical current by turning it on or off. The size of transistors has reduced to meet the increasing demands of technology but new technologies are testing their physical limits, for example a smartphone contains an average of five billion transistors. Memristors are both smaller and simpler in form than transistors, low-energy, and with the ability to retain data by ‘remembering’ the amount of charge that has passed through them. We have previously demonstrated a memristor which can store up to 128 discernible memory states per switch, almost four times more than previously reported. Memristor technologies therefore bring great prospects for next-generation chips, which need to be highly reconfigurable yet affordable, scalable and energy-efficient, not to mention secure, in order to meet the needs of today's digital services and products.

We thrive on overcoming challenges such as these and welcome opportunities to apply our interdisciplinary expertise to innovate in partnership with others.

We work closely with colleagues in Sustainable Electronic Technologies and Smart Electronic Materials and Systems. For more information on Electronics and Computer Science Research at Southampton please visit www.ecs.soton.ac.uk

Nano Research - The Zepler Institute
Nano Research - The Zepler Institute
Nano Research - The Zepler Institute
Nano Research - The Zepler Institute
Nano Research - The Zepler Institute
Nano Research - The Zepler Institute