Super-thin semiconductors delay the ‘death’ of silicon

Silicon has been the backbone of processors for decades, but it's rapidly approaching its physical limits: making a chip on a process smaller than 5 nanometers is usually impossible without introducing problems. How is Moore's Law for chip complexity...

Samsung lets inspectors into its factories following deaths

Samsung has agreed to allow inspectors into its plants as part of a deal with plant workers who contracted cancer and other workplace maladies. The company signed the document with two groups that represent ailing workers and their families. All thre...

Fujitsu to merge LSI chip business with Panasonic, cut 5,000 jobs

Fujitsu to merge chip business with Panasonic, cut 5,000 jobs

Intense semiconductor competition has already forced numerous Japanese companies to work together, and now Fujitsu has announced that it'll merge its LSI chip design and R&D divisions with Panasonic. The two companies are looking to the state-run Development Bank of Japan to fund the new venture, which comes in the wake of expected Fujitsu losses of over $1 billion this year -- forcing the company to cut 5,000 jobs and transfer 4,500 to other divisions by March 31st. Fujitsu said it's also looking to transfer a state-of-the-art LSI fabrication line in central Japan to a new foundry venture with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world's largest chip maker. That carries on a trend in declining Japanese chip dominance, exemplified by Elpida's bankruptcy and the recent government bailout of Renesas, which itself is a merger of NEC, Hitachi and Mitsubishi's semiconductor operations.

[Image credits: Wikimedia commons]

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Via: WSJ

Source: Fujitsu

New process for nanotube semiconductors could be graphene’s ticket to primetime (video)

New patented nanotube semiconductors could be graphene's ticket to primetime

In many ways, graphene is one of technology's sickest jokes. The tantalizing promise of cheap to produce, efficient to run materials, that could turn the next page in gadget history has always remained frustratingly out of reach. Now, a new process for creating semiconductors grown on graphene could see the super material commercialized in the next five years. Developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the patented process "bombs" graphene with gallium, which forms droplets, and naturally arranges itself to match graphene's famous hexagonal pattern. Then, arsenic is added to the mix, which enters the droplets and crystallizes at the bottom, creating a stalk. After a few minutes of this process the droplets are raised by the desired height. The new process also does away with the need for a (relatively) thick substrate to grow the nanowire on, making it cheaper, more flexible and transparent. The inventors state that this could be used in flexible and efficient solar cells and light emitting diodes. We say forward the revolution.

Continue reading New process for nanotube semiconductors could be graphene's ticket to primetime (video)

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New process for nanotube semiconductors could be graphene's ticket to primetime (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 30 Sep 2012 12:15:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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IBM creates consistent electron spin inside semiconductors, takes spintronics one twirl closer

IBM creates consistent electron spin inside of a chip, takes spintronics one twirl closer

A fundamental challenge of developing spintronics, or computing where the rotation of electrons carries instructions and other data rather than the charge, has been getting the electrons to spin for long enough to shuttle data to its destination in the first place. IBM and ETH Zurich claim to be the first achieving that feat by getting the electrons to dance to the same tune. Basing a semiconductor material on gallium arsenide and bringing the temperature to an extremely low -387F, the research duo have created a persistent spin helix that keeps the spin going for the 1.1 nanoseconds it would take a normal 1GHz processor to run through its full cycle, or 30 times longer than before. As impressive as it can be to stretch atomic physics that far, just remember that the theory is some distance from practice: unless you're really keen on running a computer at temperatures just a few hops away from absolute zero, there's work to be done on producing transistors (let alone processors) that safely run in the climate of the family den. Assuming that's within the realm of possibility, though, we could eventually see computers that wring much more performance per watt out of one of the most basic elements of nature.

Continue reading IBM creates consistent electron spin inside semiconductors, takes spintronics one twirl closer

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IBM creates consistent electron spin inside semiconductors, takes spintronics one twirl closer originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 13 Aug 2012 14:41:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Researchers make unsuitable parts work as solar cells, could lead to cheaper panels

Researchers make unsuitable parts work as solar cells, could lead to cheaper panels

Harnessing the power of the sun is a tricky business, but even the past few weeks have seen some interesting developments in the field. In this latest installment, researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California have figured out a way of making solar cells from any semiconductor, potentially reducing the cost of their production. You see, efficient solar cells require semiconductors to be chemically modified for the current they produce to flow in one direction. The process uses expensive materials and only works with a few types of semiconductors, but the team's looking at using ones which aren't normally suitable -- the magic is to apply an electrical field to them. This field requires energy, but what's consumed is said to be a tiny fraction of what the cell's capable of producing when active, and it means chemical modification isn't needed.

The concept of using a field to standardize the flow of juice isn't a new one, but the team's work on the geometrical structure of the cells has made it a reality, with a couple of working prototypes to satisfy the skeptics. More of these are on the way, as their focus has shifted to which semiconductors can offer the best efficiency at the lowest cost. And when the researchers have answered that question, there's nothing left to do but get cracking on commercial production. For the full scientific explanation, hit up the links below.

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Researchers make unsuitable parts work as solar cells, could lead to cheaper panels originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 11 Aug 2012 11:34:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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