Toward ultralow-power computing at exteme with silicon carbide (SiC) nanoelectromechanical logic
Many industrial systems, sensors and advanced propulsion systems demand electronics capable of functioning at high ambient temperature in the range of 500–600°C. Conventional Si-based electronics fail to work reliably at such high temperature ranges. In this paper we propose, for the first time, a high-temperature reconfigurable computing platform capable of operating at temperature of 500°C or higher. Such a platform is also amenable for reliable operation in high-radiation environment. The hardware reconfigurable platform follows the interleaved architecture of conventional Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and provides the usual benefits of lower design cost and time. However, high-temperature operation is enabled by choice of a special device material, namely silicon carbide (SiC), and a special switch structure, namely Nano-Electro-Mechanical-System (NEMS) switch. While SiC provides excellent mechanical and chemical properties suitable for operation at extreme harsh environment, NEMS switch provides low-voltage operation, ultra-low leakage and radiation hardness. We propose a novel multi-layer NEMS switch structure and efficient design of each building block of FPGA using nanoscale SiC NEMS switches. Using measured switch parameters from a number of SiC NEMS switches we fabricated, we compare the power, performance and area of an all-mechanical FPGA with alternative implementations for several benchmark circuits.