Since the introduction of Complementary-Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) technology, the chip industry has enjoyed many benefits of transistor feature size scaling, including higher speed and device density and improved energy efficiency. However, in the recent years, the IC designers have encountered a few roadblocks, namely reaching the physical limits of scaling and also increased device leakage which has resulted in a slow-down of supply voltage and power density scaling. Therefore, there has been an extensive hunt for alternative circuit architectures and switching devices that can alleviate or eliminate the current crisis in the semiconductor industry. The Nano-Electro-Mechanical (NEM) relay is a promising alternative switch that offers zero leakage and abrupt turn-on behaviour. Even though these devices are intrinsically slower than CMOS transistors, new circuit design techniques tailored for the electromechanical properties of such devices can be leveraged to design medium performance, ultra-low power integrated circuits. In this thesis, we deal with a new generation of such devices that is built in the back end of line (BEOL) CMOS process and is an ideal option for full integration with current CMOS transistor technology. Simulation and verification at the circuit and system level is a critical step in the design flow of microelectronic circuits, and this is especially important for new technologies that lack the standard design infrastructure and well-known verification platforms. Although most of the physical and electrical properties of NEM structures can be simulated using standard electronic automation software, there is no report of a reliable behavioural model for NEMS switches that enable large circuit simulations. In this work, we present an optimised model of a BEOL nano relay that encompasses all the electromechanical characteristics of the device and is robust and lightweight enough for VLSI applications that require simulation of thousands of devices. To verify the performance of the proposed model, complex logic circuits built exclusively with relays, and also, hybrid CMOS-NEM circuits are simulated and verified. Finally, these novel topologies are reviewed and discussed as low-power alternatives to current CMOS topologies.
|Date made available
|KAUST Research Repository