by Colin Jeffrey @ gizmag.com:
Swiss scientists have created the first semiconductor laser consisting solely of elements of main group IV (the carbon group) on the periodic table. Simply, this means that the new device is directly compatible with other elements in that group – such as silicon, carbon, and lead – and so can be directly incorporated in a silicon chip as it is manufactured. This presents new possibilities for transmitting data around computer chips using light, which could result in potential transfer speeds exponentially faster than possible with copper wire and using only a fraction of the energy of today’s integrated circuits.
First germanium-tin semiconductor laser directly compatible with silicon chips – [Link]
by Hanne Degans @ phys.org:
Nano-electronics research center imec announced today that it has improved its large area n-type PERT (passivated emitter, rear totally diffused) crystalline silicon (Si) solar cell on 6″ commercially available n-type Cz-Si wafers, now reaching a top conversion efficiency of 22.02 percent (calibrated at ISE CalLab). This is the highest efficiency achieved for this type of 2-side-contacted solar cell on an industrial large area wafer size.
Compared to p-type silicon solar cells, n-type cells do not suffer from light induced degradation and feature a higher tolerance to common metal impurities. As a result, n-type silicon solar cells are considered as promising alternatives to p-type solar cells for next generation highly efficient solar cells.
Large area industrial crystalline silicon n-PERT solar cell with 22 percent efficiency – [Link]
Amy Norcross @ edn.com:
HRL Laboratories, based in Malibu, CA, recently tested a prototype neuromorphic chip with 576 silicon neurons aboard a tiny drone measuring 6×6×1.5 inches and weighing 93 grams. The project was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The drone, custom built for the test by AeroVironment of Monrovia, CA, flew between three separate rooms. The aircraft was able to process data from its optical, ultrasound, and infrared sensors and recognize when it was in a new or familiar room.
Smart chip mimics human brain functions – [Link]
Faster, smaller, greener computers, capable of processing information up to 1,000 times faster than currently available models, could be made possible by replacing silicon with materials that can switch back and forth between different electrical states.
The present size and speed limitations of computer processors and memory could be overcome by replacing silicon with ‘phase-change materials’ (PCMs), which are capable of reversibly switching between two structural phases with different electrical states – one crystalline and conducting and the other glassy and insulating – in billionths of a second.
Quick-change materials break the silicon speed limit for computers – [Link]
IBM has not only perfected a method of growing wafer scale graphene as a potential material for the post-silicon era, but has found a way to use it today to dramatically cut the cost of GaN LEDs.
IBM Grows Wafer Scale Graphene – [Link]
By Darren Quick @ gizmag.com:
Conventional lithium-ion batteries rely on anodes made of graphite, but it is widely believed that the performance of this material has reached its zenith, prompting researchers to look at possible replacements. Much of the focus has been on nanoscale silicon, but it remains difficult to produce in large quantities and usually degrades quickly. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have overcome these problems by developing a lithium-ion battery anode using sand.
Sand-based anode triples lithium-ion battery performance – [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]
A look at some equipment and wafers used in the manufacture of silicon chip wafers. 200mm and 300mm wafers, die, dice sawing, lead-frame manufacture, automated testing machine (ATE) probing, clean room bunnie suits, photo plots, BGA chip thermal test sockets, and the worlds smallest active FET probes at 100 nanometers for direct wafer probing!
EEVblog #532 – Silicon Chip Wafer Fab Mailbag – [Link]
Researchers at Stanford University claim to have developed the world’s first peel-and-stick thin-film solar cells (TFSCs) that don’t require any modification of existing processes or materials. The new process would allow the creation of decal-like solar panels that could be applied to virtually any surface.
Unlike with standard thin-film solar cells, the new process doesn’t require direct fabrication on a final carrier substrate. Instead, a 300-nm film of nickel (Ni) is deposited on a silicon/silicon dioxide (Si/SiO2) wafer, on which thin-film solar cells are then deposited using standard fabrication techniques, and covered with a layer of protective polymer. A thermal release tape is then attached to the top of the thin-film solar cells as a temporary transfer holder. [via]
Peel-and-stick solar cells – [Link]