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|w 36 CNRS Networks cnrs I international magazine CINTRA Collaboration between a joint French-Singaporean laboratory and international electronics group Thales drives industrial innovation. Global Links in Nanotechnology BY Arby Gh aribi an Meeting the world’s rising computing and communication needs requires highly-efficient chips that are ever smaller, faster, and more powerful. Rising to the challenge, the international joint unit (UMI) CINTRA1 pairs scientists from CNRS and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) with industry researchers from the French electronics giant Thales, a leader in aerospace, defense, and transportation. This collaboration started in 2002 with a series of photonics workshops that rapidly evolved into joint nanotechnology projects and scientific agreements, whose encouraging results culminated in the permanent establishment of CINTRA on the NTU campus in 2009. In total, the laboratory brings together more than 50 professors, researchers, and PhD students. “This partnership gave rise to many innovations, including the development of novel nanopackaging techniques using carbon nanotubes,” explains outgoing director Dominique Baillargeat. “This patentpending new material will make it easier to integrate future electronic components into communication devices.” CINTRA researchers have also made considerable progress towards their prime objective of integrating both electronic and photonic components onto a single chip. Such a device would make it possible to combine the performance of low-frequency electrons, such as the waves in transistors, with that of high- frequency photons, such as the light in fiber optics or lasers. The consequences would be far-reaching. For example, researchers are using state-of-the-art nanofabrication equipment and measurement systems to build self-powered nanoelectronic components able to communicate at the speed of light, using photonic rather than electronic routers. This could speed up computing time considerably. Nano-batteries and solar cells could more efficiently harvest and store energy. Improved imaging and signal processing chips, along with enhanced circuit architecture, could increase the capacities of larger communication and computing systems. Yet the most promising research so far targets the creation of precision nano-sensors able to accurately and selectively detect physical, chemical, or biological stimuli for the medical or security industries. New nano- materials would allow these chips to capture kinetic or solar energy, making them self-powered. This would vastly expand the environments in which they could be embedded. These same technological advances at the nano level would allow the sensors to independently communicate with larger networks with no need for a physical interface. “What was and remains so attractive about the UMI model is the complementarity and combination of expertise,” observes Philippe Coquet, CINTRA’s new director. “By creating synergies between NTU’s knowledge in the development of new materials, CNRS’s capacity to create new components from these materials, and Thales’s valuable guidance as an industrial end-user, we are able to transform cutting-edge academic research into exciting new commercial products.” 01. CNRS International NTU Thales Research Alliance. Contact information: CINTRA, Singapore. Philippe Coquet > philippe.coquet@iemn.univ-lille1.fr Dominique Baillargeat > dominique.baillargeat@xlim.fr 01 High-density carbon nanotube forest used in electronic and energy components. 02 UMI CINTRA researcher tapering silica microfibers. 01 02 © Prof. SHUM Pin g Perr y/CINTRA © Prof. Ta y Ben g Kan g/CINTRA 20 μm


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