Researchers at Rice University (USA) have developed a micron-scale spatial light modulator (SLM) similar to those currently used in sensing and imaging devices, but with the potential to run several orders of magnitude faster. Their ‘antenna on a chip’ operates in 3D ‘free space’ instead of the two-dimensional space of conventional semiconductor devices.
A device that looks like a tiny washboard may clean the clocks of current commercial products used to manipulate infrared light.
New research by the Rice University lab of Qianfan Xu has produced a micron-scale spatial light modulator (SLM) like those used in sensing and imaging devices, but with the potential to run orders of magnitude faster. Unlike other devices in two-dimensional semiconducting chips, the Rice chips work in three-dimensional “free space.”
In current optical computing devices, light is confined to two-dimensional circuitry and travels in waveguides from point to point. According to the researchers, 2D systems ignore the massive multiplexing capability of optical systems arising from the fact that multiple light beams can propagate in the same space without affecting each other. [via]
“Antenna on Chip” Manipulates Light at Warp Speed - [Link]
Research laboratory Imec has announced that it has integrated an ultra-thin, flexible chip with bendable and stretchable interconnects into a package that adapts dynamically to curving and bending surfaces. The resulting circuitry can be embedded in medical and lifestyle applications where user comfort and unobtrusiveness is key, such as wearable health monitors or smart clothing.
For the demonstration, the researchers thinned a commercially available microcontroller down to 30µm, preserving the electrical performance and functionality. This die was then embedded in a slim polyimide package (40-50µm thick). Next, this ultrathin chip was integrated with stretchable electrical wiring. These were realized by patterning polyimide-supported meandering horseshoe-shaped wires, a technology developed and optimized at the lab. Last, the package is embedded in an elastomeric substrate, e.g. polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). In this substrate, the conductors behave as two dimensional springs, enabling greater flexibility while preserving conductivity. [via]
Electronics that Flex and Stretch like Skin - [Link]
FTDI just released a new series of their USB to serial device ICs. The X-series is an upgrade on the R part used in the Bus Pirate and formerly in Arduinos. It features better transfer rates, lower power consumption, needs fewer discrete components, and has high power USB charging capability. [via]
FTDI is delighted to announce the launch of its new X-Chip series. Made up of 13 devices, with an exception feature set, the X-Chip series offers full speed USB 2.0 bridging solutions to UART, SPI/FT1248, I2C and FIFO interfaces complementing the company’s existing R chip, and Hi-Speed solutions. “By specifying the X-Chip into their designs, engineers will reduce their overall bill of materials and optimise PCB real estate,” states Fred Dart, CEO and founder of FTDI. “With its comprehensive feature set, the benefits of lower power, smaller device footprint and NEW enhanced battery charger detection can all be realised, as well as the robust USB functionality that FTDI has always provided in its connectivity solutions”. In addition to the ICs, FTDI has released a wide-selection of development modules, enabling instant access to the different functions for each chip type, and thus allowing for easy device evaluation and prototyping development.
FTDI’s new X-Series of USB device chips - [Link]
In 2010 Maxim acquired Teridian Semiconductor to create a device portfolio for Smart Metering applications. Recently a new device was added, the 78M6631, which is a highly integrated three-phase power measurement and monitoring system-on-chip (SoC) with a 10 MHz 8051-compatible processor core. Designed for a wide variety of applications requiring three-phase power and quality measurements, it is available with preloaded firmware that supports both delta and wye (Y or star) three-phase configurations. [via]
3-Phase Power Monitor on a Chip - [Link]
Imec and Genalyte have developed and produced a set of disposable silicon photonics biosensor chips for use in diagnostic and molecular detection equipment. The chips combine standard silicon photonic waveguide technology with bio-compatible modifications and were manufactured using standard microelectronic CMOS fabrication technology. The chips have been tested in the field and proven to meet the functional requirements with high yield.
The high integration level of silicon photonics on the chips enables extensive multiplexed biosensing. Each chip can contain up to 128 ring resonator sensors coated with application-specific chemicals to provide very sensitive molecular detection capability. [via]
Disposable Biosensors Feature Molecular Detection - [Link]
Smaller and more energy-efficient electronic chips could be made using molybdenite. In an article appearing online January 30 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, EPFL’s Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) publishes a study showing that this material has distinct advantages over traditional silicon or graphene for use in electronics applications.
A discovery made at EPFL could play an important role in electronics, allowing us to make transistors that are smaller and more energy efficient. Research carried out in the Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) has revealed that molybdenite, or MoS2, is a very effective semiconductor. This mineral, which is abundant in nature, is often used as an element in steel alloys or as an additive in lubricants. But it had not yet been extensively studied for use in electronics.
New Transistors: An Alternative to Silicon and Better Than Graphene - [Link]
SAN FRANCISCO – Apple Inc is famous for relying on low-cost Asian manufacturers to both source and assemble its popular gadgets, but the consumer device giant recently started receiving a critical component in its iPad and iPhones from closer to home – Texas.
The A5 processor – the brain in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 – is now made in a sprawling 1.6 million square feet factory in Austin owned by Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics, according to people familiar with the operation.
One of the few major components to be sourced from within the United States, the A5 processor is built by Samsung in a newly constructed $3.6 billion non-memory chip production line that reached full production in early December.
Nearly all of the output of the non-memory chip production from the factory – which is the size of about nine football fields – is dedicated to producing Apple chips, one of the people said. Samsung also produces NAND flash memory chips in Austin…
Made in Texas: Apple’s A5 iPhone chip - [Link]
ARM and Globalfoundries on Wednesday demonstrated a special test chip based on two ARM Cortex-A9 general-purpose cores operating at whopping 2.50GHz, which is a record clock-speed for ARM. The system-on-chip was made using 28nm HPP [high-performance plus] fabrication process.
In a bid to verify high-performance system-on-chip designs and their elements, ARM and Globalfoundries developed special TQV (technology qualification vehicles) that use Artisan advanced physical IP which is widely used by many developers. Each TQV is designed to emulate a full specification SoC and aims to improve performance, lower power consumption and facilitate a faster path to market for foundry customers. The dual-core Cortex-A9 TQV SoC operating at 2.50GHz is an industry record and a clear demonstration of 28 HPP fabrication process’ capabilities.
Dual-Core ARM Chip Operating at 2.5GHz - [Link]
you’ve ever wondered why people tend to avoid BGA, it isn’t only the cost associated with multi-layer PCBs, it’s also because it’s impossible to inspect them after they have been soldered to way you would a QFP chip for solder bridges, etc. The solution in any professional production line is simple … they all get scanned with a specialised XRAY machine. The image above is from a board I had reworked, and wanted to make sure everything was OK underneath since I only had one sample. I thought the results were worth sharing. The solid black boxes underneath are capacitors on the bottom side of the board directly beneath the BGA chip.
How do you Test a BGA? - [Link]