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November 2022

Tutorial EQ10: Advanced Memory and Computing Technologies Using Phase Change Materials

Manuel Le Gallo, IBM Research Europe

Deep Learning, Inference, and Training Using Computational Phase Change Memory

Written by Mohamed Atwa   

Manuel Le Gallo gave a detailed talk on the actualization of deep learning using phase change memory (PCM) hardware. He began by describing the differences between conventional computing, which separates processors and memory and “in-memory” processing, in which computations are done directly in the memory device. He cautioned that only certain types of logic and arithmetic can be done in memory, limited by the device physics in such devices. He then introduced charge and resistance based in-memory computing devices, with DRAM and Flash memory being examples of the former, and ReRAM and PCM being examples of the latter. PCM was given as an example of a prototypical “memristor” for such in-memory processing applications. The use-cases of such memristive “in-memory” processing were presented as being somewhere in between stochastic computing applications such as random number generation and those requiring more exacting solutions, such as scientific computing. Le Gallo then tackled the various nuances surrounding the usage of PCM for deep learning as an ideal use case between stochastic and precise computing. He concluded by introducing a newly-unveiled PCM memory chip simulator that IBM has released to open-source, known as the “IBM Analog AI Hardware Acceleration Kit.”

Symposium DS02: Integrating Machine Learning with Simulations for Accelerated Materials Modeling

N M Anoop Krishnan, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

Cementron: Cement Clinker Microstructure Segmentation Using Machine Learning

Written by Aashutosh Mistry

Did you know cement (a common building material) production is one of the leading causes of global CO2 pollution? Various researchers across the globe have been trying to rethink the cement industry for a greener future. Production of cement clinker is a key step that can be reformulated. Clinkers are formed via the sintering of limestone and clay, and their microstructure is the key aspect defining their usefulness as a good cement. To reformulate this step, researchers want to correlate various processing attributes to changes in the clinker microstructure. While visualizing the clinker microstructure is not a difficult task and typically optical microscopy gives desired resolution, analysis of the microstructure is effort intensive and typically one manually identifies various materials phases in such images based on an empirical understanding of underlying materials phases. N M Anoop Krishnan and his colleagues are using machine learning to automate this step to accelerate the overall research in rethinking cement production. While multiple machine learning algorithms for image analysis have been proposed by the tech companies like Facebook and used by various researchers for their scientific work, a key challenge in this work was the lack of a reliable image dataset of clinker microstructures. Accordingly, the researchers first had to develop a database of hundreds of microstructural images with corresponding phases identified manually. Once such a database was ready, the researchers tweaked and trained Detectron 2—a convolutional neural network-based algorithm proposed by Facebook to detect objects in images—on such an image database. The results show that the various phases in the clinker microstructure can be predicted with reasonable accuracy. While the researchers will continue to improve this algorithm to decrease errors like missed particles and misclassifications, Krishnan and his colleagues are excited to use these interpreted images for further analysis—especially to correlate different cement manufacturing processes to clinker microstructures.

Blogging for MRS 2022 - Kathy Liu

Grad arcade_zoomedHi, I’m Kathy! I’m excited to be blogging for the MRS 2022 Fall Meeting in Boston! I’m a Ph.D. student in Prof. Joanna Aizenberg’s lab at Harvard University in Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering. I’m currently researching self-healing and bio-interfacing materials. I love dancing (I had so much fun being on a few dance teams at Stanford during my undergrad!), live music, exploring/learning (museums, new hobbies, bookstores, etc.), and science communication/outreach (big surprise). 

It’s awesome to have MRS back in-person this year and I’ll be covering a variety of topics from the Fall meeting, from session content to reflections to interviews with attendees.

I’ll also be covering the meeting on my Twitter! You can follow along and I’d be so happy to connect: @liu_liu_lemon or use the hashtag #F22MRS to join in on the Twitter discussion from everyone.

I can’t wait to meet everyone and share this meeting on MRS Meeting Scene!

Tutorial EQ10: Advanced Memory and Computing Technologies Using Phase Change Materials

Fabrizio Acriprete, University of Rome Tor Vergata

Molecular Beam Epitaxial Growth and Characterization of Phase Change Memory Materials

Written by Mohamed Atwa     

Fabrizio Acriprete gave a deep-dive talk into the epitaxial growth and materials characterization of the most famous phase change memory material: germanium antimony telluride (GST). He started off by briefly touching on the applications of phase change memory (PCM) to embedded systems storage applications as well as to more exotic applications such as neuromorphic memory and nonvolatile photonics. He then described the various techniques employed in both industry and academia to grow epitaxial films of PCM materials. Specifically, he highlighted the pros and cons of MBE, PLD, and sputtering and showed the most common use cases for each. He moved on to the various crystal structures adopted by GST and its individual constituents: GeTe and Sb2Te. He touched briefly on the fundamental interest in the metal-insulator transition exhibited by GSTs when they change structure between their amorphous and crystalline phases. While amorphous GSTs are more insulating, crystalline GSTs are more conducting. This, he explained, was due to the change in vacancy ordering between the two phases. He segued into the compositional and structural tuning GSTs by varying the elemental fluxes, substrate types, and deposition temperatures of GSTs during MBE growth. Acriprete ended the talk by discussing a variety of experimental techniques used to probe the electronic structure of GSTs including time-resolved photoemission, angle-resolved photo-spectroscopy, and X-ray photo-spectroscopy. Overall, the session was an excellent exploration of the materials science-side of phase change memory materials.

Tutorial EQ10: Advanced Memory and Computing Technologies Using Phase Change Materials

Andrea Redaelli, STMicroelectronics

Embedded Phase Change Memory: From Material Engineering to Technology

Written by Mohamed Atwa    

Andrea Redaelli kicked off the tutorial with a short and sweet overview of phase change memory (PCM) from the perspective of both materials engineering as well as device fabrication, validation, and benchmarking. He began by introducing the myriad of nonvolatile memory applications of PCMs in the automotive, consumer electronics, and power electronics industries. The strength of PCMS over other nonvolatile memory technologies (such as NOR, NAND, and DRAM) were highlighted. The value proposition of PCMs, Redaelli emphasized, is that they provide the highest capacity per unit cost when compared to these other nonvolatile memory technologies. Redaelli then weighed the pros and cons of different compositions of the most famous PCM material: germanium antimony telluride (GST). While antimony-rich GSTs have the advantage in terms of read-write speed, germanium-rich tellurides are winning out in terms of long-term data retention. The tutorial then touched on the various materials engineering and device fabrication challenges that are present in GST-based PCMs, such as elemental segregation and resulting device aging problems. Redaelli briefly presented some of the statistical methods and metrics devised to quantify elemental segregation in GST-based PCMs. By carefully tuning the “thermal budget,” the thermal energy and heating rate, supplied during read/write cycles, Redaelli reported on his group’s success in limiting the elemental segregation in GST-based PCMs. Redaelli concluded the talk with a summary of the competitiveness of PCM as a nonvolatile memory technology and a positive outlook for the adoption of the technology to industrial and consumer applications in the near future.

Back in Boston! #F22MRS

F22 blog-4I'm Judy Meiksin, editor of MRS Meeting Scene! and glad to be back in Boston! If you see me roaming the halls, say "hi" and let's do a selfie!

I'm working with a wonderful group of volunteers - grad students and post-docs - who are covering the talks and blogging about the Meeting. Every once in a while, I'll add to the blog with photos or some coverage of professional development sessions.

Have a great Meeting and follow #F22MRS 


MRS Blogger Rohit Pratyush Behera

Hi All,

I'm Rohit Pratyush Behera, a Materials researcher and a blogger for MRS Fall meeting 2022. My PhD research is stationed at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. My work is typically related to processing, fabrication and understanding the mechanical behaviour of ceramic structures inspired from nature for structural and transport applications. Aside research, I like to play a variety of sports, and like to read and write articles as well to be understandable to the general public.

This year I'll give a general overview summary of some talks I attend and encourage discussions of the same. I'm specifically interested to bring you closer to presenters working on bioinspired structures, their applications and potential direction ahead. During this session, we can also look forward to make use of the physically networking session and connect with each other while the opportunity prevails.

The attendants are encouraged to find topics that might interest them by looking at the catalogue or the app. To have a more open discussion, the attendees can use #F22MRS over on Twitter. I hope to connect with many presenters as much as possible and hope that everyone enjoys this year’s Hybrid MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit 2022.

Best regards,


Symposium Highlights

The symposia of the 2022 MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit are divided into 8 clusters. Here are a few selected highlights.

EQ02.02.01 Plasmonics in Electronic Topological Materials
There are interesting applications of topological materials.
SB04.01.01 Organic Semiconductor Nanoparticles Restore Vision in Blind Retinas
Vision restoration in blind people using materials (impact on medicine).
SB04.02.01 Programming Bioelectronic Bacteria as Real-Time and Multi-Channel Sensors
Building of biohybrids and biocompatible sensors (impact on medicine, diagnosis).
SB04.03.01 The Power of Current Producing Biofilms
Use of bacteria as energy harvesting materials.
SB08.02.01 Biomaterial Innovation Through Deep Time—How Spiders Have Evolved Spectacular Silks and Inspire Biomimetics
One focus in biomaterials research is to artificially replicate spider silk proteins; in contrast to the silkworm, B. mori, the spider’s aggressive territorial behavior and its cannibalism render spider farming not feasible. Owing to their distinct mechanical properties, including outstanding elasticity, high tensile strength and superior toughness, spider silks could be useful in medical and industrial fields. Phylogenetic analyses of spiders and genomic tools were used to characterize the silk proteins they synthesize and these are used to trace the long and complex history of silk evolution.
SB08.06.01 Plant-Based Biohybrid Systems for Energy Applications
Innovative technology based on direct integration of organic electronic material into living plants for the extraction and storage of energy and the production of new materials will be reported. The development of bioelectronics for the monitoring and control of plant physiology may provide useful tools for studying plant biology, in order to increase knowledge about fundamental processes and also find applications in agriculture and forestry for the optimization and monitoring of growth.
SB08.12.01 The Avenue to “Green” in Organic Bioelectronics
The emerging area of “Green” research is aimed at identifying compounds of natural origin and establishing economically efficient routes for the production of synthetic materials that have applicability in environmentally safe (biodegradable) and/or biocompatible devices. The integration of electronics with living tissue may help fulfill not only the original promise of organic electronics (to deliver low-cost and energy efficient materials and devices) but also achieve unimaginable functionalities for electronics, for example benign integration into life and environment. 
SB08.13.01 Chemical Decoration of Living Microalgae for Bioremediation
Pollution is a topic concerning both the environment and human health. Modern remediation techniques are often based on the use of artificial, temporary and energy consuming processes which can also negatively affect the environment. In this talk, a general vision will be proposed for the use of chemistry to green-engineered living microalgae to give them resistance to harsh conditions and trigger their hidden potential to decontaminate the world.
SF08.04.06 Bioinspired Glass Composites with Damage-Sensing Functionalities
When we think of ceramics and glass, we think of an inert, brittle object, but Magrini's ceramics are 'alive': they are tough and they can also sense when they are about to break.
SF08.04.08 Ultrafast High-Temperature Sintering of Dense Alumina with Bioinspired Microstructures
Sintering of ceramics usually takes about 10 hours at high temperature, or requires pressure to be fast. What if we could make ceramics in just 10 seconds, and without pressure? And what about ceramics that are less fragile than usual ceramics? Behera explores ceramics with bioinspired microstructures produced in 10 seconds. Maybe our future ceramic shields will resemble seashells and bones, and be easy to make.