Our beloved silicon-based transistors can “only” work at temperatures up to 550° F (around 290° C), which is much more than what’s needed for most general-purpose applications. But those don’t include a nuclear reactor, obviously! (Unless you have one at home. Do you?)
University of Utah engineers have developed tiny plasma-based transistors that can withstand temperatures up to 1,450° F (almost 800° C) and work with ionizing radiation. Since plasma itself is ionized gas, it can even be said that nuclear radiation contributes to proper functioning of these devices. Besides, current plasma-based transistors are about 500-µm long, while these newcomers measure 1–6 µm (!).
[via Elektor Electronics]
March 20, 2014 – University of Utah electrical engineers fabricated the smallest plasma transistors that can withstand high temperatures and ionizing radiation found in a nuclear reactor. Such transistors someday might enable smartphones that take and collect medical X-rays on a battlefield, and devices to measure air quality in real time.
“These plasma-based electronics can be used to control and guide robots to conduct tasks inside the nuclear reactor,” says Massood Tabib-Azar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Microplasma transistors in a circuit can also control nuclear reactors if something goes wrong, and also could work in the event of nuclear attack.”
Tiny Transistors for Extreme Environs - [Link]
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new processing technique that makes light emitting diodes (LEDs) brighter and more resilient by coating the semiconductor material gallium nitride (GaN) with a layer of phosphorus-derived acid.
“By coating polar GaN with a self-assembling layer of phosphonic groups, we were able to increase luminescence without increasing energy input,” says Stewart Wilkins, a Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the work. “The phosphonic groups also improve stability, making the GaN less likely to degrade in solution.”
New technique makes LEDs brighter, more resilient - [Link]
by Michelle Ma:
Most modern electronics, from flat-screen TVs and smartphones to wearable technologies and computer monitors, use tiny light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. These LEDs are based off of semiconductors that emit light with the movement of electrons. As devices get smaller and faster, there is more demand for such semiconductors that are tinier, stronger and more energy efficient.
University of Washington scientists have built the thinnest-known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics. The LED is based off of two-dimensional, flexible semiconductors, making it possible to stack or use in much smaller and more diverse applications than current technology allows.
Scientists build thinnest-possible LEDs to be stronger, more energy efficient - [Link]
A team of scientists from the University of York, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) Germany, and Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, have developed a new class of magnetic material which flips magnetic state when zapped by an ultra fast laser pulse. This should pave the way to mass storage devices with improved performance and power efficiency compared to current day technology.
The new material demonstrates the use of a synthetic ferrimagnet comprising a sandwich of two ferromagnetic materials and a non-magnetic spacer layer. The spacer layer engineers the coupling between the two ferromagnets so that they align opposite one another. When subjected to an ultrafast laser pulse, this structure spontaneously switches its magnetic state representing writing a single bit of data. [via]
A New Class of Magnetic Material - [Link]
by Rick Robinson:
A research collaboration consisting of IHP-Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics in Germany and the Georgia Institute of Technology has demonstrated the world’s fastest silicon-based device to date. The investigators operated a silicon-germanium (SiGe) transistor at 798 gigahertz (GHz) fMAX, exceeding the previous speed record for silicon-germanium chips by about 200 GHz.
Although these operating speeds were achieved at extremely cold temperatures, the research suggests that record speeds at room temperature aren’t far off, said professor John D. Cressler, who led the research for Georgia Tech. Information about the research was published in February of 2014, by IEEE Electron Device Letters.
Silicon-Germanium Chip Sets New Speed Record - [Link]
Researchers have developed the technology for a catheter-based device that would provide forward-looking, real-time, three-dimensional imaging from inside the heart, coronary arteries and peripheral blood vessels. With its volumetric imaging, the new device could better guide surgeons working in the heart, and potentially allow more of patients’ clogged arteries to be cleared without major surgery.
The device integrates ultrasound transducers with processing electronics on a single 1.4 millimeter silicon chip. On-chip processing of signals allows data from more than a hundred elements on the device to be transmitted using just 13 tiny cables, permitting it to easily travel through circuitous blood vessels. The forward-looking images produced by the device would provide significantly more information than existing cross-sectional ultrasound.
Single Chip Device to Provide Real-Time 3-D Images from Inside the Heart and Blood Vessels - [Link]
Device stores twice the energy of microbatteries currently used in transmitters. By Tom Rickey:
RICHLAND, Wash. – Scientists have created a microbattery that packs twice the energy compared to current microbatteries used to monitor the movements of salmon through rivers in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.
The battery, a cylinder just slightly larger than a long grain of rice, is certainly not the world’s smallest battery, as engineers have created batteries far tinier than the width of a human hair. But those smaller batteries don’t hold enough energy to power acoustic fish tags. The new battery is small enough to be injected into an organism and holds much more energy than similar-sized batteries.
A battery small enough to be injected, energetic enough to track salmon - [Link]
A research team from National Taiwan University, National Taipei University of Technology and Chang Gung University have described how they developed a free-swimming remote-controlled bare die at the IEEE International Solid-State circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco. The 21.2 mm square die made by TSMC using a 0.35 µm process, is able to travel at 0.3 mm/s submerged in a liquid. A similar device was presented at the ISSCC in 2012, which used Lorentz forces for propulsion. This design however uses electrodes along the four edges of the chip to generate bubbles as a product of electrolysis. [via]
A Free-Swimming Chip - [Link]
In a paper published in Nature Communications researchers at IBM describe how they have built a silicon-based receiver chip incorporating GFETs or Graphene Field Effect Transistors (the purple structure in the photo) into the circuit. The multi-stage receiver integrated circuit consists of 3 graphene transistors, 4 inductors, 2 capacitors, and 2 resistors.
“This is the first time that someone has shown graphene devices and circuits to perform modern wireless communication functions comparable to silicon technology,”
said Supratik Guha, Director of Physical Sciences at IBM Research. In a test the team successfully used the graphene-based receiver to process a digital transmission on 4.3GHz. The binary sequence received was 01001001 01000010 01001101, which represents ASCII coding of the letters IBM.
IBM Chip uses Graphene FETs - [Link]