The 2018 edition, which was held on December 5 at the Musée du quai Branly — Jacques Chirac, included a CEMES member among its winners: André Gourdon and his nanometric gates.
André Gourdon, a Senior Researcher at the Centre d'élaboration de matériaux et d'études structurales (CEMES - CNRS), coordinated the PAMS ("Planar Atomic and Molecular Scale devices") project to help transition from microcomputing to nanocomputing. The project succeeded in designing logic gates—the elementary building blocks of digital circuits—that consist of just a few atoms or a single molecule, but that can nevertheless compute binary numbers. This subsequently enabled the replacement of certain transistors and diodes with nanometric equivalents, thereby further miniaturizing computing. Researchers accomplished this by digging a narrow trench in a layer of hydrogen grafted onto silicon, and then using atomic wires to transmit the electrons.
In all, eight teams collaborated from 2013 to 2017. “We worked a great deal on products that are too reactive to be prepared in a solution,” Gourdon adds. “We synthesized precursors to stabilize them, and then removed this protection once everything was in place on a chosen surface.” As a result, this research has expanded the range of nanometric equivalents for components in electronic circuits, once again with an eye toward the overarching goal of miniaturization.
Running counter to certain trends in which a well-known researcher surrounds him or herself with postdoctoral fellows on temporary contracts, Gourdon praises the principle of major European programs. “With PAMS we had many permanent employees who were genuinely engaged. That matches my vision of research: a collaborative project in which we convince the best European specialists to work with us. We give teams a boost, and enable everyone to work together.” In addition, he praises the management flexibility offered by European programs, and the possibility of developing ambitious, high-risk projects over the long term. Like Séverine Gomès, he also stresses the support provided by project managers in more calmly conducting such vast project.
Dr. André Gourdon, CEMES (CNRS)
andre.gourdon at cemes.fr