Visible to the public INSPIRE Track 1: Programming Digital Materials: Additive Assembly of Integrated ElectronicsConflict Detection Enabled

Project Details
Lead PI:Neil Gershenfeld
Performance Period:01/01/14 - 12/31/16
Institution(s):Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sponsor(s):National Science Foundation
Award Number:1344222
314 Reads. Placed 375 out of 803 NSF CPS Projects based on total reads on all related artifacts.
Abstract: This INSPIRE award is partially funded by the Interdisciplinary Research Program in the Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation in the Directorate for Engineering, the Computer systems Research Program in the Division of Computer and Network Systems in the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, and the Robust Intelligence Program in the Division of Information and Intelligent Systems in the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. Integrated circuits are produced in billion-dollar chip fabs, which require many months of processing to go from a design to a chip. The goal of this proposal is to accomplish that in an afternoon, with a table-top process. Rather than etching or depositing electronic materials, as is done today, it is based on assembling digital materials. These use a discrete set of components, reversibly joined in a discrete set of relative positions and orientations. Those attributes allow positions to be determined by the parts, errors in their placement to be detected and corrected, dissimilar materials to be joined, and them to be disassembled rather than disposed. A conducting and insulating part type will be used to replace multilayer printed circuit boards, connectors and cabling for three-dimensional interconnect, inductors and capacitors, striplines and antennas. A resistive part type will be added for producing passive components, semiconducting part types will be added for active components, and magnetic and flexural part types for electromechanical components. This project will develop prototypes of the parts, the processes to produce them, the assemblers to place them, and the software tools to design with them. The research will progress in stages of size and complexity, reproducing the history of integrated electronics. First will be the equivalent of small-scale integration, using tens of parts with a 100 micron feature size. A test case at this level of integration will be assembling a radiofrequency matching network. Then will come medium-scale integration, using hundreds of parts with a 10 micron feature size. A goal here will be assembling a ring oscillator and binary counter. Finally, large-scale integration will use thousands of parts with a 1 micron feature size, with a goal of assembling a microprocessor. Computer-controlled manufacturing has progressed from subtractive to additive processes; this research roadmap will introduce the discrete assembly and disassembly of functional digital materials, to code the construction of complete systems in an integrated process.