MASER Engineering participated in the European STREP / FP7-funded “ATHENIS” project, which is an acronym for “Automotive Tested High-voltage and Embedded Non-volatile memory Integrated System-on-Chip”.
The ATHENIS consortium was formed with the purpose of developing the first automotive System-on-Chip (SoC) platform that enables highly-integrated products that can be operated under the harshest conditions known in the automotive industry. This includes full reverse polarity capability at the low cost of CMOS, application voltages up to 120 V, currents up to 10 A, temperatures up to 200 °C, embedded non-volatile memory, chip-level ESD up to >8 kV Human Body Model (HBM), and high logic gate densities.

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Duration: 4 years (2008 - 2011).

Project Overview

More than 20% of the value of each car already comes from embedded electronics. Keeping costs and space for additional functionality low requires further integration of electronic components such as low and high voltage devices and memory on a single System-on-Chip (SoC). SoC technologies for segments with lower reliability requirements are already available.
However, there are no cost-effective technologies yet combining all of the harshest automotive reliability requirements for full SoC integration of powertrain ICs for engines, starters, alternators, etc. This barrier to powertrain IC SoC integration inhibits cost reduction and introduction of more fuel-efficient cars.

The purpose of ATHENIS is to provide proof of concept for the industry's first SoC technology platform that can surmount these integration barriers. The ATHENIS SoC technology platform is intended to be the first in meeting the combination of all of the harshest requirements including full reverse polarity capability at the low cost of CMOS, application voltages up to 120V, currents up to 10A, temperatures up to 200°C, embedded non-volatile memory, chip-level ESD up to >8kV HBM, and high logic gate densities.
This will be achieved by combining HVCMOS technology from Austriamicrosystems AG with MEMS-based 'Nanomech' embedded Non-Volatile Memory (eNVM) technology from Cavendish Kinetics. Innovative (patent pending) add-on technology modules such as reverse polarity HVCMOS and >8kV ESD structures for HVCMOS as well as automotive extensions for Nanomech will be developed. An alternator-like demonstrator with and without eNVM is selected for a worst-case proof of concept. eNVM will enable 'flexibility' to software-configure alternator systems for multiple car platforms.
Valeo Electrical Systems will provide system specifications, system development and system evaluation. The other research partners contribute the required novel characterization, reliability, test, and simulation methodology.

Contribution MASER Engineering

Within the ATHENIS project, MASER Engineering contributes with Failure and Construction Analysis research on the MEMS based memory cells. The novel construction requires new techniques for physical fault localization, site specific sample preparation and fault modeling.

More information on MASER’s contribution to the ATHENIS project can be found in this presentation.

Project Consortium

  • Austriamicrosystems, Austria (link).
  • Cavendish Kinetics, The Netherlands (link).
  • Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Italy (link).
  • Fraunhofer Gesellschaft – Institut für Integrierte Systeme und Bauelementetechnologie (FhG IISB), Germany (link).
  • MASER Engineering, The Netherlands (link).
  • Technische Universität Wien – Institute for Microelectronics, Austria (link).
  • University of Ferrara, Italy (link).
  • Valeo Electrical Systems, France (link).



Project information

  • ATHENIS website (link).
  • ATHENIS project on Cordis website (link).
  • ATHENIS factsheet (link).
  • Publishable Summary of the ATHENIS 2nd periodic report (link).


  • Presentation MASER Engineering “Automotive devices – Reliability test and analysis facilities” on ATHENIS Workshop [15-12-2010] (link).
  • ATHENIS Project “The future of Semiconductors in the automotive sector”, video on YouTube (link).
  • Technology News article in EE Times Europe - Power Management “ATHENIS IC technology platform enables energy efficiency in harshest automotive environments” [222903008; 11-07-2011] (link).
  • Presentation Fraunhofer IISB “Predictive TCAD for automobile electronics” on ATHENIS workshop [15-12-2010] (link).
  • Article "An high voltage CMOS voltage regulator for automotive alternators with programmable functionalities and full reverse polarity capability" for DATE'10 (Dresden, Germany) by UniPisa, Valeo and Austriamicrosystems [8/12-03-2012] (link).
  • Presentation Cavendish Kinetics “NanoMechTM non-volatile memory moves toward production” on MicroNano Conference 2008 (link).

Press releases

  • Press release MASER Engineering [13-07-2011] (link).
  • Press release Austriamicrosystems [11-07-2011] (link).

Scientific articles

  • Time-dependent defect spectroscopy for characterization of border traps in metal-oxide-semiconductor transistors - Grasser T, Reisinger H, Wagner P-J and Kaczer B (link).
  • An analytical approach for physical modeling of hot-carrier induced degradation - Tyaginov S, Starkov I, Enichlmair H, Jungemann Ch, Park JM, Seebacher E, Orio R, Ceric H and Grasser T (link).
  • Multiphonon hole trapping from first principles - Schanovsky F, Goes W and Grasser T (link).
  • Stochastic charge trapping in oxides: From random telegraph noise to bias temperature instabilities - Grasser T (link)
  • Reduced On Resistance in LDMOS Devices by Integrating Trench Gates Into Planar Technology - Erlbacher T, Bauer AJ and Frey L (link).
  • Observations of negative bias temperature instability defect generation via on the fly electron spin resonance - Lenahan PM, Ryan JT, Grasser T and Enichlmair H (link).


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