Designing Nanosystems: the CMOS Way

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Engineering Science


Nanosystems are promising high performance alternatives to existing sensing and processing systems. However, their cost is often enhanced by object-oriented design and manufacturing, wherein a costly nanomanufacturing process is used for making one product for one application. By using structured design philosophies similar to the ones used in popular Complementary mental oxide semiconductor (CMOS) Integrated Circuits, we propose to showcase the feasibility of cheap nanosensors as well as integration of nanosystems with existing manufacturing facilities. This provides an opportunity for existing IC design houses to include nanosystems in their design flow, while developing a novel single chip low cost multifunctional nano-sensor array made from Graphene.

Planned Impact

Nanosystems have the potential of novel high performance sensing, processing and communicating solutions. However, their rapid adoption is limited by high cost of manufacturing as well as poor standard design flow. This project develops an IC like design flow for nanosystems and uses this to build Graphene nanosystems. The design flow can be used by a number of microelectronics design companies, currently designing ICs to diversity into nanosystems as well as to include nanosystems into their existing designs. The project will also enable existing design tools to support nanosystems with limited additional development. The UK electronics industry is worth £16 Billion every year to the economy employing about 300,000 people. Our electronics design industry has 40% share of European design, with most of the leading semiconductor companies having design operations in the UK. The market of Graphene based devices, if designed properly, is expected to grow to $1.3 billion by 2023 with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 47.1%. Enabling IC designers to utilize Graphene would enhance their product line, market differentiation and provide significant growth of the UK electronics industry. We will be working with a leading IC design software company to integrate this flow with their software to provide an even simpler route for IC designers to nanosystems.

The design flow will be validated using a multi-functional single chip array of sensors using an array of well-designed modules. Thus, including modularity and regularity, we will develop a novel low cost sensing solution, which can be functionised for environmental as well as biochemical applications. We will be working with a SME in the field of security and transportation to funtionalise our sensors for environmental monitoring.

Academically, this research will lead to important studies in engineering design and its application to novel materials, which will be published in journals dedicated to electronics design. Furthermore, arrays of graphene resonators will be one of the first to showcase large system made of this wonderful new material.

The investigators in the project have a long track record of commercialization as well as working closely with industry for development of new design as well as sensing solutions. In addition, we also have significant experience of engaging with the wider public, professional societies as well as governmental bodies. We will continue these engagements through our own activities as well as through the communication office of the University who will coordinate with us on print, broadcast and social media.
Description We have developed a design strategy for nano-sensors using Graphene as a typical material. Using this, we have designed an array of nanomechanical sensors. These have provided further understanding of variability of the devices and allow us to design and build variability aware sensors in future. We have also obtained new information about the nonlinearity of these devices. In a parallel activity, using the exciting stimulus used for nano resonator devices, we were able to change the damping attached to them. This found application in an entirely different field of ultrasound transducers, wherein we were able to change a transducer from those used in therapy to those used in diagnosis. This change was done electronically and invention protection has been filed for it.
Exploitation Route The design process is similar to that used for electronics engineers to design standard computer chips. Hence, the new design process can be used by existing computer chip designers to include novel nano-sensors in the same flow thereby providing multi-sensors and processing electronics on the same chip. In addition, this design process can also be used by nanotechnologists to ensure their devices can be translated to the existing silicon foundries.
Sectors Electronics,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description Vlatacom 
Organisation Vlatacom
Country Serbia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution project partner
Collaborator Contribution research collaboration
Impact Too early to list outcomes.
Start Year 2016
Title Dual Mode Ultrasound System 
Description The invention relates to a dual mode ultrasound transducer and methods for using a dual mode ultrasound transducer. This invention proposes a novel design which can transform a ultrasound transducer designed for therapy to one used for diagnosis and vice-versa. The techniques works with micro and nano - manufactured transducers as well as typical bulk devices. 
IP Reference GB1800536.3 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2018
Licensed No
Impact It has the potential of utilising one ultrasound machine for diagnosis of a disease or a tumour as well as treating it on-site.