3D Nanosystems: The Path To 1,000X Energy Efficiency

Max Shulaker


While trillions of sensors connected to the “Internet of Everything” (IoE) promise to transform our lives, they simultaneously pose major obstacles which we are already encountering today. The massive amount of generated raw data (i.e., the “data deluge”) is quickly exceeding computing capabilities of existing systems, and cannot be overcome by isolated improvements in sensors, transistors, memories or architectures alone. Rather, an end-to-end approach is needed, whereby the unique benefits of new emerging nanotechnologies - for sensors, memories and transistors - are exploited to realize new nanosystem architectures that are not possible using today's technologies. However, emerging nanomaterials and nanodevices suffer from significant imperfections and variations. Thus, realizing working circuits, let alone transformative nanosystems, has been infeasible. In this talk, I present a path towards realizing future nanosystems, and show how recent progress in several emerging nanotechnologies (carbon nanotubes for logic, non-volatile memories for data storage, and new materials for sensing) enables us to realize such nanosystems today. As a case-study, I will discuss how by leveraging emerging nanotechnologies, we have realized the first monolithically-integrated three-dimensional (3D) nanosystem architectures with vertically-integrated layers of logic, memory, and sensing circuits. With dense and fine-grained connectivity between millions of on-chip sensors, data storage, and embedded computation, such nanosystems can capture terabytes of data from the outside world every second, and produce “processed information” by performing in-situ classification of the sensor data using on-chip accelerators. As a demonstration, we tailor a demo system for gas classification, for real-time health monitoring from breath.