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Ultrathin saw for cutting silicon is made of carbon nanotubes

August 1, 2013 9:09 am | News | Comments

Semiconductor manufacturers look for ways to save wafer material. According to recent research, ultra-thin saws made of carbon nanotubes and coated with diamond would be able to cut through silicon wafers with minimum loss. A new method that grows both nanotubes and diamonds makes it possible to manufacture the saw wires.

Researchers discover universal law for light absorption in 2-D semiconductors

July 31, 2013 5:30 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Berkeley Lab | News | Comments

Many of today’s semiconductor technologies hinge upon the absorption of light. Absorption is critical for nano-sized structures at the interface between two energy barriers called quantum wells, in which the movement of charge carriers is confined to two dimensions. Working with the semiconductor indium arsenide, a team of researchers has discovered a quantum unit of photon absorption that should be general to all 2-D semiconductors.

Researchers discover universal law for light absorption in 2-D semiconductors

July 31, 2013 3:33 pm | News | Comments

From solar cells to opto-electronic sensors to lasers and imaging devices, many of today’s semiconductor technologies hinge upon the absorption of light. Absorption is especially critical for nano-sized structures at the interface between two energy barriers called quantum wells. Now, for the first time, a simple law of light absorption for 2-D semiconductors has been demonstrated.

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Researchers create electronic ink from silicon nanocrystals

July 30, 2013 12:02 pm | News | Comments

A collaboration of scientists from the Univ. of Minnesota and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have developed a new method to use an ionized gas, called nonthermal plasma, to produce silicon nanocrystals and cover their surfaces with a layer of chlorine atoms. This method allows production of stable silicon inks without organic ligand molecules and also greatly enhances conductivity.

Imperfect graphene renders “electrical highways”

July 11, 2013 6:37 pm | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Combining experiment and theory, Cornell Univ. researchers have shown that when grown in stacked layers, graphene produces some specific defects that influence its conductivity. Previously it was thought that when perfectly stacked in layers, graphene would be defect-free. Instead, it ripples. The finding could influence efforts to make graphene act like a semiconductor.

Putting more science into the art of making nanocrystals

July 11, 2013 8:05 am | by Steven Powell, University of South Carolina | News | Comments

Andrew Greytak, a chemist at the University of South Carolina, is leading a research team that’s making the process of synthesizing quantum dots much more systematic. His group recently detailed an effective new method for purifying cadmium selenide nanocrystals with well-defined surface properties. The advance required the adoption of gel-permeation chromatography.

Silicon oxide memories transcend a hurdle

July 9, 2013 11:45 am | by Mike Williams, Rice University | News | Comments

A team led by Rice University chemist James Tour has built a 1-kilobit rewritable device with diodes that eliminate data-corrupting crosstalk. This chip, which uses cheap, plentiful silicon oxide to store data, shows it should be possible to surpass the limitations of flash memory in packing density, energy consumption per bit and switching speed.

An unlikely competitor for diamond as the best thermal conductor

July 8, 2013 7:41 am | News | Comments

An unlikely material, cubic boron arsenide, could deliver an extraordinarily high thermal conductivity—on par with the industry standard set by costly diamond. The discovery that the chemical compound of boron and arsenic could rival diamond surprised the team of theoretical physicists. But a new theoretical approach allowed the team to unlock the secret to boron arsenide's potentially extraordinary ability to conduct heat.

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X-rays point way to tinier transistors

July 3, 2013 3:14 pm | by Laura Mgrdichian, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

In the constant push for smaller transistors, researchers have been investigating oxides with higher K, or dielectric constant, values. Materials such as germanium, hafnium, and titanium are being investigated for this role, but many prototypes leak electrons. At the National Synchrotron Light Source, x-rays are being used to probe the electronic behavior of a germanium-based transistor structure that could offer a  solution.

Team builds ultrasensitive molybdenum-based image sensor

July 2, 2013 12:08 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Switzerland have designed prototype for an image sensor based on the semiconducting properties of molybdenite. Their sensor only has a single pixel, but it needs five times less light to trigger a charge transfer than the silicon-based sensors that are currently available.

Microscopy technique could help computer industry develop 3-D components

June 26, 2013 8:14 am | News | Comments

Through-focus scanning optical microscopy, a technique developed several years ago at NIST for improving optical microscopes, now has been applied to monitoring the next generation of computer chip circuit components, potentially providing the semiconductor industry with a crucial tool for improving chips for the next decade or more.

Semiconductor industry gets a sharper vision of the future

June 26, 2013 7:55 am | News | Comments

The world’s most advanced extreme-ultraviolet microscope is about to go online at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the queue of semiconductor companies waiting to use it already stretches out the door. The much-anticipated SHARP microscope will provide semiconductor companies with the means to push their chip-making technology to new levels of miniaturization and complexity.

NREL reports record efficiency for a two-junction solar cell

June 25, 2013 1:21 pm | News | Comments

At the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Tampa, Fla. last week, National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientist Myles Steiner announced a world record of 31.1% conversion efficiency for a two-junction solar cell under one sun of illumination. The achievement edges the previous record of 30.8% by Alta Devices.

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New boron-silicon electrode could boost lithium-ion battery capacity

June 6, 2013 2:04 pm | News | Comments

Silicon can accept ten times more lithium than the graphite used in the electrodes in lithium-ion batteries, but silicon also expands, shortening electrode life. Looking for an alternative to pure silicon, scientists in Germany have now synthesized a novel framework structure consisting of boron and silicon, which could serve as electrode material.

Laser with "rainbow" buffer could allow subpicosecond pulses

June 4, 2013 8:46 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Munich, Germany, have recently published work that describes experiments in which inexpensive semiconductor lasers have produced high-energy light pulses as short as 60 picoseconds without the drawbacks of previous approaches in terms of power consumption and device size. They say the new technique, based on the use of a new Fourier domain mode-locked laser, could open the door to subpicosecond pulses.

Nanoengineering boosts efficiency of materials

May 30, 2013 12:51 pm | News | Comments

High-performance thermoelectric materials that convert waste heat to electricity could one day be a source of more sustainable power. But they need to be a lot more efficient before they could be effective on a broad scale in places like power plants or military bases, researchers say. A University of Michigan researcher has taken a step toward that goal.

NSF and SRC to fund research to create failure-resistant circuits

May 24, 2013 5:00 am | News | Comments

Leaders of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the world's leading university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies, this week announced 18 new projects funded through a joint initiative to address research challenges in the design of failure-resistant circuits and systems.

New technique may open new era of atomic-scale semiconductor devices

May 22, 2013 8:08 am | News | Comments

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for creating high-quality semiconductor thin films at the atomic scale—meaning the films are only one atom thick. The technique can be used to create these thin films on a large scale, sufficient to coat wafers that are two inches wide, or larger.

Atomic-scale investigations solve key puzzle of LED efficiency

May 22, 2013 7:58 am | News | Comments

From the high-resolution glow of flat screen televisions to light bulbs that last for years, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) continue to transform technology. Their full potential, however, remains untapped. A contentious controversy surrounds the high intensity of indium gallium nitride, with experts split on whether or not indium-rich clusters within the material provide the LED's remarkable efficiency.

Scientists find new magic in magnetic material

May 8, 2013 4:04 pm | News | Comments

From powerful computers to super-sensitive medical and environmental detectors that are faster, smaller, and use less energy—yes, we want them, but how do we get them? In research that is helping to lay the groundwork for the electronics of the future, University of Delaware scientists have confirmed the presence of a magnetic field generated by electrons which scientists had theorized existed, but that had never been proven until now.

Microwave cooks up solar cell materials

May 6, 2013 12:56 pm | News | Comments

University of Utah metallurgists have used an old microwave oven to produce a nanocrystal semiconductor rapidly using cheap, abundant, and less toxic metals than other semiconductors. X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, and atomic spectroscopy all helped confirm that the CZTS (copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur) semiconductor was suitable for use in a solar cell.  

Improving materials that convert heat to electricity and vice-versa

May 6, 2013 7:50 am | News | Comments

Thermoelectric materials can be used to turn waste heat into electricity or to provide refrigeration without any liquid coolants, and a research team from the University of Michigan has found a way to nearly double the efficiency of a particular class of them that's made with organic semiconductors.

Room-temperature nuclear spins advance quantum computing efforts

April 30, 2013 11:42 am | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has recently succeeded in both initializing and reading nuclear spins—which are relevant to qubits for quantum computers—at room temperature. With the help of a spin filter developed in 2009, the team has produced a flow of free electrons with a given spin in a material. 

Semiconductor spray paint could create organic electronics

April 25, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

Wake Forest University's Organic Electronics group has developed an organic semiconductor “spray paint” that can be applied to large surface areas without losing electric conductivity. The new spray-deposition method has the advantages of drop casting, spin coating, and prior spray-on techniques: It can applied to large surfaces of any medium, retaining electrical performance.

Engineers generate world-record millimeter-wave output power from nanoscale CMOS

April 25, 2013 7:44 am | News | Comments

A team of  electrical engineers from Columbia University has generated a record amount of power output—by a power of five—using silicon-based nanoscale CMOS technology for millimeter-wave power amplifiers. Power amplifiers are used in communications and sensor systems to boost power levels for reliable transmission of signals over long distances as required by the given application.

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