Context: The recent exciting demonstrations of quantum chips with tens of qubits should not conceal the major challenges that remain regarding the integration and scalability of the classical electronics in charge of controlling quantum systems. For quantum computing technologies to be truly scalable, critical processes related to qubit control and error correction should be performed directly inside the cryostat with cryogenic-compatible, low-power and scalable classical integrated electronics. In that scope, quantum-technology-agnostic cryogenic memory technologies will play a key role for storing vital information such as biasing instructions, error correction algorithms or qubit states. Such cryo-memories being currently missing, we therefore kickstarted a research program at the Interdisciplinary Institute for Technological Innovation (3IT) and Quantum Institute (IQ) of UdeS aiming to develop cryogenic-compatible and low-power memory technologies based on resistive memories (i.e. memristors) exhibiting unprecedented scalability and multi-bit storage. Developing novel memristors specifically tailored to operate at cryogenic temperatures has the potential to result in essential building blocks for future quantum computers, enabling high-density data storage but also cryogenic variable DC voltage sources and in-memory computing for low-power artificial intelligence.
Project: The goal of the proposed PhD project is to develop resistive memories specifically tailored to operate at cryogenic temperatures (˂ 4 K), with tunable resistive switching behavior and superconducting interconnects. Using the expertise in nanofabrication and cryogenic technologies of 3IT and IQ, the student will (i) conduct an extensive review of the scientific literature to determine the memristor technology and materials best suited for cryogenic conditions; (ii) design novel cryo-memristors integrated in crossbars and develop the complete micro-nanofabrication process on silicon in clean room. This work will include the development of key steps like the deposition and patterning of superconducting materials (e.g. NbN, TiN, Ta), and the deposition of resistive switching thin films; (iii) conduct morphological and electrical characterizations of the memristors. This work will be carried out using the state-of-the-art physical-chemical characterization tools of 3IT (scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy) and cryogenic probe stations and cryostats of IQ; (iv) study the multi-level resistive switching behavior of the devices and demonstrate high-precision resistance programing in cryogenic conditions (˂ 4 K).
Supervision and work environment: This project will be carried out under the co-supervision of Prof. Yann Beilliard and Prof. Dominique Drouin between 3IT and IQ, in close collaboration with professors and experts in nanofabrication, memristors and cryogenic quantum technologies. Our research group is composed of about twenty students working as a team on nanofabrication of memristor devices, memristor-based hardware for AI and neuromorphic engineering for various applications including quantum computing. The 3IT is a unique institute in Canada dedicated to the research and development of innovative technologies in the fields of energy, electronics, robotics, health. The IQ is a leading-edge institute whose mission is to invent tomorrow's quantum technologies and transfer them to industry. The candidate will thus benefit from an exceptional international research environment where students, engineers, professors and industrialists work hand in hand to develop the technologies of the future.
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