cfaed Cluster of Excellence 2012-2019

Information processing is still dominated by complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. Since the 1960s, the advancements in electronics due to scaling of integration densities along Moore’s law have established a general expectation for very short innovation cycles with ever-new application possibilities. Indeed, the huge advancement of electronics over the past decades has been the driving force for innovation in various application fields and has significantly shaped the world we live in today.

As CMOS scaling was projected to end soon after 2020, we assumed that industry would stop being preoccupied with advancing CMOS and would eagerly look out for new ideas. The first decade of the new millennium had seen significant advances in new materials, which led to many promising discoveries. While materials research was continued, some discoveries had reached a point that warranted exploring device fabrication, circuits, and information processing systems for potential applications. Given these two developments, we believed that university-based research had a unique opportunity to integrate discoveries on new materials and technological innovations with the potential for advancing electronic information processing beyond 2020. Therefore the Cluster of Excellence Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfaed) was guided by the vision that future CMOS technology would be complemented with new technologies (augmented CMOS), resulting in heterogeneous architectures to form highly efficient information processing systems.

To maximize chances for major breakthroughs, we followed a “More-Shots-On-Goal” approach. We initiated research on several new alternative or complementary materials technology options such as reconfigurable electronics based on silicon nanowires, electronics relying on carbon-nanotubes, organic electronics, electronics assembly supported by biomolecules, as well as chemical and bio-inspired information processing paradigms. We furthermore investigated different systems and architectural technology options, for instance, adaptive, resilient and energy-efficient information and communication (ICT) systems. Comprehensively considering these different options from the materials layer all the way up to the system layer was difficult. However, our key approach to identify and push those technology options with highest potential for impactful breakthroughs made and makes cfaed unique in the research landscape.