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]
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]