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The “50-50” chip: Memory device of the future?

September 13, 2013 12:32 pm | News | Comments

A new, environmentally-friendly electronic alloy consisting of 50 aluminum atoms bound to 50 atoms of antimony may be promising for building next-generation "phase-change" memory devices. Phase-change memory is being actively pursued as an alternative to the ubiquitous flash memory for data storage applications, because flash memory is limited in its storage density and phase-change memory can operate much faster.

Toward a truly white OLED

September 13, 2013 7:36 am | News | Comments

By inserting platinum atoms into an organic semiconductor, Univ. of Utah physicists were able to “tune” the plastic-like polymer to emit light of different colors—a step toward more efficient, less expensive and truly white organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) for light bulbs of the future.

Magnetic semiconductor material holds promise for “spintronics”

September 11, 2013 7:36 am | News | Comments

Researchers at North Carolina State Univ. have created a new compound, strontium tin oxide (Sr3SnO) that can be integrated into silicon chips and is a dilute magnetic semiconductor, meaning that it could be used to make “spintronic” devices, which rely on magnetic force to operate, rather than electrical currents.

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New nanoparticles to make solar cells cheaper to manufacture

August 29, 2013 4:43 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Canada have found that abundant materials in the Earth's crust can be used to make inexpensive and easily manufactured nanoparticle-based solar cells. The team has designed nanoparticles that absorb light and conduct electricity from two very common elements: phosphorus and zinc. These are much more plentiful than scarce cadmium, and safer than lead.

A new atomic crystal dynamic for titanium dioxide found

August 29, 2013 4:20 pm | News | Comments

Titanium dioxide is an inexpensive, yet versatile material. The use of titanium oxide in the electronics industry is currently being investigated. An international team of researchers has confirmed theoretically-predicted interactions between single oxygen molecules and crystalline titanium dioxide and the implications of these findings could be important for a variety of applications.

Substrates Find New Flexibility

August 28, 2013 1:38 pm | Award Winners

Devices based on gallium arsenide (GaAs) have numerous applications, such as photovoltaics, because it is a wide bandgap semiconductor and can be used under extreme conditions—high-temperature, high-power and high-radiation environments—where conventional silicon-based devices can’t adequately perform. However, GaAs wafers have been expensive, inflexible and limited to 6 in in diameter. TexMat LLC and TapeSolar have introduced a new type of GaAs wafer that is flexible and can be produced in sizes measuring in meters, not inches.

Physicists offer explanation for strange magnetic behavior at semiconductor interfaces

August 26, 2013 7:57 am | News | Comments

They're not exactly the peanut butter and jelly of semiconductors, but when you put them together, something magical happens. Alone, neither lanthanum aluminate nor strontium titanate exhibit any particularly notable properties. But when they are layered together, they become not only conductive, but also magnetic.

Breakthrough advances nanomaterials for printable solar cells

August 23, 2013 1:21 pm | News | Comments

A RMIT Univ. research collaboration with top scientists in Australia and Japan is advancing next-generation solar cells. Currently, cadmium or lead elements dominate colloidal nanocrystals synthesis, despite toxicity concerns. In its research, the team has discovered a new selective synthesis of tetrahedrite and famatinite copper antimony sulphide nanocrystals, which could be promising for printable solar cell applications.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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