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]
Development in CERN never stops. Scientists from all over the world are working to improve every aspect of this giant experiment. That’s what happens on ALICE project in an effort to improve the current Inner Tracking System (ITS) and overcome difficulties encountered on the current detector technologies.
ITS Upgrade Project is responsible for the development of new detectors that will upgrade the ALICE project. Two new technologies are discussed to move the detectors on a new level. “Hybrid silicon pixel detectors” and ” monolithic silicon pixel detectors” are the basic concepts. There are already prototypes evaluated for the new silicon detectors.
Within the WG3 prototypes for both pixel technologies have been realized in the course of the past year. One of the main challenges is clearly the limitation in allowed material budget. This is necessary in order to improve the impact parameter resolution at low pT by about a factor of 3. A total of 0.3% X0 per layer is about a factor 3 less than used in the present ALICE silicon pixel detector, which is already the pixel detector with the lowest material budget of all LHC detectors. The thickness requirements for each component are therefore stringent. Silicon thicknesses of 50 µm in case of monolithic detectors or 100+50 µm in case of hybrid pixel detectors require special developments, which have been pursued within the WG3 community.
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ALICE Inner Tracking System (ITS) is upgrating to new detector technologies - [Link]
Get that warm tube sound in your MP3 player!
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a semiconductor device with a vacuum channel etched in silicon for electron transport, instead of a conventional solid-state channel. This represents a return to vacuum tube technology, but on a much smaller scale.
Fast electronic devices need on short carrier transport times, which are usually achieved by decreasing the channel length and/or increasing the carrier velocity. In an ideal device, carrier motion is ballistic with no collisions, but it is difficult to achieve ballistic transport in a solid-state medium because the high electric field used to increase the carrier velocity also increases scattering. Vacuum is an ideal medium for ballistic transport, but vacuum devices typically have low emission currents and high operating voltages. [via]
Silicon Vacuum Tubes - [Link]
Nanotransistors just got a lot more nano. A new chip construction process cooked up by Applied Materials in Santa Clara creates transistors so small they can be measured in smatterings of atoms.
The company can now coax a few dozen of the little guys to assemble themselves into a base layer that helps control the flow of electricity on computer chips. The biggest development is the manufacturing process: Applied Materials devised a way to keep several interconnected manufacturing machines in a near-total vacuum—at this level, a single stray nanoparticle can ruin everything.
The other part of the breakthrough is making this base from hafnium (used also in nuclear control rods) instead of the standard silicon oxynitride, which is terrible at holding back electrons on a supersmall scale. (Gordon Moore himself has called this technique the biggest advancement in the field in 40 years—and it is likely to keep processors advancing on pace with his eponymous law for the foreseeable future.)
Applied Materials’ system means transistors can be about 22 nanometers wide, as opposed to the current standard of about 45 nanometers, resulting in smaller, cheaper computing devices.
CA Lab Creates the World’s Smallest Transistors - [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]
Researchers at Purdue University (USA) are developing a new type of computer memory that could be faster than the existing memory devices and consume far less power than flash memory. The devices combines silicon nanowires with a ferroelectric polymer, which is a material that switches polarity when an electric field is applied, to make storage cells whose polarity can be read as digital ones and zeros.
The new technology, which according to the researchers is still in a very nascent stage, is called FeTRAM for “ferroelectric transistor random access memory”. FeTRAM devices are nonvolatile, which means that data is retained in the absence of power. They could potentially use only 1% of the power of current flash memory devices, although the current version consume more power because it is not properly scaled. [via]
Radically new memory technology - [Link]
US semiconductor technology company RoseStreet Labs (RSL) has announced what it claims to be the world’s first long wavelength LED device built on a low-cost silicon wafer substrate. According to RSL, LEDs operating at green or longer wavelengths would fill a demand gap in the rapidly growing commercial and industrial markets for lighting and illumination.
RSL’s device compliments its proprietary thin-film InGaN-on-silicon technology for high efficiency photovoltaic applications and power devices. These longer wavelength devices are fabricated using commercial scale deposition tools at RSL’s Nitride Research Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Silicon substrates have a substantial cost advantage over the more traditional sapphire or silicon carbide substrates typically utilized in LED fabrication, the company claims. [via]
Novel green LED built on silicon substrate - [Link]
Earlier this year we ran a story on molybdenite, a mineral that held an advantage over graphene for use in electronic devices due to the existence of “band gaps” in the material that are needed for devices such as transistors, computer chips and solar cells. Now MIT researchers have overcome that deficiency by finding a way to produce graphene in significant quantities in a two- or three-layer form with the layers arranged just right to give the material the much-desired band gap.
MIT researchers give graphene band gap and open the door for post-silicon electronic devices - [Link]