Interview: Thierry Baron, director of LTM, the lead on the Need for IoT* project:

Categorie(s) : Innovation & Society, Interviews, MINATEC, News

Published : 5 April 2021

More economical use of materials now a priority for the microelectronics industry

What is the rationale behind Need for IoT, a joint project between Grenoble-Alpes University, Grenoble INP, CNRS, and the CEA?

The idea for project, which launched in 2018, came from scientists at LTM and CEA-Leti. They wanted to head off the problem of dwindling cobalt, gallium, indium, germanium, and platinum supplies to mitigate the impact on the microelectronics industry and, especially, on IoT devices. The average smartphone contains dozens of these and other critical materials, most of which come from China, South Africa, and Latin America.

This is nothing new. What makes your approach to the problem different?

There have been supply chain concerns in the energy industry for a long time. However, the microelectronics industry started looking at the supply chain much later. In 2018, when we initiated this project, the industry’s main focus was still performance. We have eight PhD dissertations underway, with research taking place in ten labs. Our main innovation lies in our approach, which combines the physical sciences, the focus of five of the dissertations, and the humanities, the focus of the three other dissertations.

Two years in, do you have any results to report?

A photodetector demonstrator which contains at least 1,000 times less critical materials (GaSe, InSe), albeit with lower performance, was built as part of one of the PhD projects. Solutions that are ready to scale up are still five to ten years away, so we will have to be patient. The Need for IoT project also produced a webinar for the general public and a serious game for college students and businesses. This is a topic that concerns everyone.


*Learn more about Need for IoT:

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