A topological approach to the next generation of electronic, photonic and phononic devices

The European project TOCHA is launching today

Scientific advances are bringing society closer to a new generation of devices with such energy and precision demands that a new catalogue of materials with enhanced properties is needed. The “Dissipationless topological channels for information transfer and quantum metrology” (TOCHA) Project has the ambition of harnessing topological concepts for future generation of devices and architectures across which information can flow without losses. This initiative, starting January 2019 and coordinated by the ICREA Prof. Sergio O. Valenzuela from the Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (ICN2, a center of BIST and CSIC), is funded under the Horizon 2020 EU research and development programme. The Kick-Off meeting of the project is gathering today and tomorrow in Barcelona representatives of all the members of the consortium.

TOCHA will investigate topological protection, a property that provides stability to a system, in novel materials and nanoscopic structures. Its objective is to empower electrons (subatomic particles with negative electric charge), photons (quantum particles of electromagnetic radiation, such as light) and phonons (quantum particles transferring sound or heat) to flow with little or no dissipation and, ultimately, crosslink them within a hybrid platform. This will entail the design of novel topological photonic/phononic waveguides and the engineering of disruptive heterostructures elaborated from the combination of topological insulators and ferromagnetic materials. Overcoming this technological and fundamental challenge is crucial for the development of technologies in fields ranging from information processing to quantum communication and metrology. In each of these areas, the dissipation of information is a key hurdle that leads, for example, to unacceptable thermal loads or error rates.

A leap forward towards a deeper level of basic understanding of topological systems is needed to accelerate the evolution of these materials from fundamental science to engineering and technology. For this reason the TOCHA project proposes to take advantage of the unique properties of emerging materials through research involving electronic materials, optics, thermal management and metrology. The coordinated efforts of 11 research units from 7 leading European Academic Institutions, 1 Technology and Innovation Centre and 1 enterprise expert in atomistic simulations distributed over 6 countries, will focus on advancing all levels of the value chain to enhance the handling and transport of (quantum) information and metrology for an upcoming generation of advanced devices.

TOCHA Project details:

The EU FET PROACTIVE project TOCHA has a 5-years duration, starting January 2019 and concluding December 2023. As part of the funding program Horizon 2020, the project is supported by the European Commission with a budget of 4.9 Million Euros.

The official website for the project will be launched in February 2019: http://www.tocha-project.eu

The Participating Institutions and Industry Partners are:

  • Center for Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies (C2N-CNRS) – France

  • Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA) – SPINTEC (SPINtronique et TEchnologie des Composants) – France

  • Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (ICN2) – Spain

    Project Coordinator with three research Groups involved (Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices Group; Photonic and Phononic Nanostructures Group; and, Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience Group)

  • Institute of Optical Materials and Technologies – Bulgary

  • Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) – Germany

  • Simune Atomistics S.L. – Spain

  • University of Würzburg – Germany

  • University of Copenhagen – Denmark

  • VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland – Finland


About the ICN2, TOCHA coordinator:

The Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology – ICN2) is devoted to the generation of knowledge, materials and devices in the broad fields of ICT, health, energy and the environment. Its expertise lies at the nanoscale, where new properties, interactions and way to exploit them in everyday life are being discovered all the time. Among its goals is to bring together scientists from diverse backgrounds in the pursuit of better science, better training and better outreach to society, while also seeking out new ways to engage with local and global industry. The institute was accredited as a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence in 2014, and the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities renewed this status in 2018.

Among its trustees are the Generalitat of Catalonia, the Spanish National Research Council and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), where it is based. The ICN2 is also one of the founding members of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).

Media Contact
Àlex Argemí
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