Participation in the MEDEA+ Forum in Barcelona in November 2005 clearly illustrated the success of this EUREKA Cluster in its support for the European microelectronics industry. Attendance at the annual event has increased year by year and has exceeded meanwhile 300 participants. And there were most of the 80 finished or active projects in MEDEA+ displaying results at the event. Many phase one projects have already finished successfully and presentation were made on next generation lithography and on processing technologies for deep submicron devices. Attention was also paid to new areas opening up - including biotechnology and security. And MEDEA+ is looking to a follow up programme from 2008 to meet new challenges.
"No-one doubts the importance of the information society," said Rafael Sagrario, general director for the Information Society at the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce (MITYC) in his opening speech. "And MEDEA+ offers outstanding value in terms of innovation, partnership and co-operation. However, we have tough challenges to meet the ambitious European goals for 2010."
Mastering new technologies
MEDEA+ Chairman Arthur van der Poel emphasised the important role MEDEA+ plays in mastering new technologies. "On a positive note, we have just published a new version of our electronic design automation road map," he said. "European microelectronics companies are leaders and not followers in technology. R&D is crucial and MEDEA+ companies invest substantially in R&D - a big factor in European R&D overall". MEDEA+ now involves 350 partners from 21 countries and an average of 250 person years per project. France is still the biggest participant, followed by The Netherlands and Germany. New countries (mostly from East of Europe) start participating and others like Spain gradually increase their contribution. "However, overall there is a concern that the gap between labelled project resources and public funding is growing," he warned. The bottom-up approach favoured by industry is of little use if public authorities are not ready to fund projects. So MEDEA+ is highly committed to discussions with public authorities at an early stage, and when developing its strategic research agenda. At the halfway point in the MEDEA+ programme, many of the early projects are finishing. For this reason, MEDEA+ set up an open call in 2005 to fill the gap appearing in the second half of the programme. MEDEA is also looking forward to what will happen after MEDEA+ and has identified a clear consensus on the need for a follow up programme. It is also working closely with the European Technology Platform for Nanoelectronics (ENIAC) as well as for Embedded Systems (ARTEMIS).
Nanoscale CMOS production
Guillermo Bomchil of STMicroelectronics provided a broad overview of European nanoscale CMOS processing projects, covering both MEDEA+ and EU work. "EU projects are more basic and more exploratory," he explained. "EUREKA projects tend to be more focused to medium-short term issues."
Three MEDEA projects are particularly interesting: 1. T201 CMOS logic 0.1 Âµm - a year after the end of the project that set out the rules for industrial fabrication, 25 submicron circuits have been processed and work is already far beyond that achieved in the project itself. 2. T207 65 nm CMOS300 - this project is set to finish at the end of 2005 and involved a lot of work on new materials for substrates as well as multi-level metallisation for use in 65nm processes. One major result has been clear demonstration that it is possible continue to work in bulk polysilicon for gates. 3. 2T103 45 nm full CMOS integration - this MEDEA+ second phase project has not yet been labelled but is important to keep EUROPE ahead of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS). And on the Commission side, the IST/FP6 PULLNANO project is looking further ahead at 32/22 nm scale circuitry, which will almost definitely require a replacement material for bulk polysilicon.
Healthier and safer future
Biotechnology and security markets will both play important roles in the second phase of MEDEA+. In a detailed presentation on integration of nanotechnologies to provide a global system approach for healthcare applications, Jean Chabbal of the CEA-LETI research institute in France highlighted the need for a true multidisciplinary approach. Miniaturisation of testing with complete laboratories on a chip will speed diagnostics and bring testing close to the patient. Three specific systems can be envisaged: 1. Disposable 'credit-card'-sized multi-parameter systems for checking blood, urine, breath and saliva when dealing with infections, septicaemia and cardiovascular problems; 2. Miniature molecular profiling systems for blood and biopsies when treating cancer or dementia; and 3. Autonomous continuous sensors for air, water and food for security and detection of problems such as legionnaire?s disease. Didier Lamouche, CEO of Bull took a broader look at Europe and the possibility of regaining leadership in the IT space globally. "The growing 'open world' phase is giving us perhaps the best possibility", he emphasised. He saw three crucial requirements initially: HPC servers with hardware for simulation; open source middleware and software; and higher levels of security through embedded solutions and services.
Major changes ahead
"Global Market Changes in Electronics - Microelectronics", seen with the eyes of an economist, have been presented by Tobias Just from Deutsche Bank Research. He introduced evolution and impacts of globalisation, demographic trends and the consequences of technology convergence on supply and demand in the microelectronics environment.