Information technology has penetrated society much faster than its performance has increased according to Moore’s law. This has led to a significant increase in the amount of energy consumed throughout the world by information technology systems. For example, computers as well as computing and data centres in industrialized countries, such as Germany, already account for approximately 10% of the electrical energy consumption—and a rising trend is expected.
The rationale of the research programme is twofold: First, it explores the fundamentals of solid-state based new technologies and strategies for a future green ICT (Green-IT). The focus lies on the development of highly energy-efficient concepts and processes for the storage and processing of information including completely new computing paradigms such as quantum computing, in order to significantly reduce the electrical energy footprint of ICT. Second, with its strong basis in condensed matter and surface physics and a broad portfolio of experimental and theoretical techniques, the programme will tackle material-related fundamental problems and microscopic mechanisms in the fields of energy harvesting, conversion and storage. Scientists are therefore working on the following research approaches:
● Integration of logic and memory components on computer chips in order to reduce energy use during data transmission;
● Research of extremely energy efficient memristive and non-volatile memory, in order to reduce energy consumption in writing processes by up to two orders of magnitude compared to current systems;
● Transition from binary information-processing systems to a completely novel type of neuromorphic information-processing, inspired by energy-efficient processes within the human brain;
● Basic research on concepts of quantum information-processing which will open new paths within the field of ICT.
The participating researchers have long-standing and comprehensive expertise in the fields of solid-state physics and surface physics as well as a substantial portfolio of experimental and theoretical methods. The programme concentrates on four fundamental focal topics which address relevant state variables in the physics of information technology and electronic phenomena. All four focal topics have their roots in basic research, from which novel concepts for highly energy-efficient information technology and contribution to other fields will be developed.