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Better than diamond

January 7, 2013 1:39 pm | by Gunnar Bartsch | News | Comments

Silicon carbide crystals consist of a regular lattice formed by silicon and carbon atoms. At present, these semiconductors are extensively used in micro and opto-electronics. Physicists have recently modified silicon carbide crystals in a way that these exhibit new and surprising properties. This makes them interesting with regard to the design of high-performance computers or data transmission.

A nanoscale window to the biological world

December 21, 2012 8:24 am | by Ken Kingery, Virginia Tech | News | Comments

Investigators at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have invented a way to directly image biological structures at their most fundamental level and in their natural habitats. Their newly developed in situ molecular microscopy provides a gateway to imaging dynamic systems in structural biology

Engineers roll up inductors to save space

December 14, 2012 10:09 am | News | Comments

Inductors are essential components of integrated circuits. The sprawling metal spirals store magnetic energy, acting as a buffer against changes in current and modulating frequency. However, because inductance depends on the number of coils, they take up a lot of space. Researchers have recently build a 3D rolled-up inductor with a footprint more than 100 times smaller without sacrificing performance.

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IBM's silicon nanophotonics chip ready to move from lab to fab

December 10, 2012 10:13 am | News | Comments

After more than a decade of research, chip engineers at IBM Research have built a scalable, fab-ready microchip that successfully integrates a complete optical package built from silicon. This silicon nanophotonics breakthrough allows the new chip, which is built on an existing high-performance 90-nm CMOS fabrication line, to exceed a transceiver data rate of 25 Gbps per channel.

Tiny compound semiconductor transistor could challenge silicon's dominance

December 10, 2012 7:23 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Silicon's crown is under threat: The semiconductor's days as the king of microchips for computers and smart devices could be numbered, thanks to the development of the smallest transistor ever to be built from a rival material, indium gallium arsenide. The compound transistor, built by a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, performs well despite being just 22 nm in length.

Flexible silicon solar cell fabrics may soon be possible

December 6, 2012 9:02 am | News | Comments

For the first time, a silicon-based optical fiber with solar cell capabilities has been developed that has been shown to be scalable to many meters in length. The research opens the door to the possibility of weaving together solar cell silicon wires to create flexible, curved, or twisted solar fabrics.

Researchers create flexible, low-voltage circuits using nanocrystals

November 26, 2012 2:40 pm | News | Comments

Electronic circuits are typically integrated in rigid silicon wafers, but flexibility opens up a wide range of applications. In a world where electronics are becoming more pervasive, flexibility is a highly desirable trait, but finding materials with the right mix of performance and manufacturing cost remains a challenge. Now a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that nanocrystals of the semiconductor cadmium selenide can be "printed" or "coated" on flexible plastics to form high-performance electronics.

Well-ordered nanorods could improve LED displays

October 25, 2012 2:16 pm | News | Comments

Synchrotron-based imaging has helped develop enhanced light-emitting diode (LED) displays using bottom-up engineering methods. Collaborative work between researchers from the University of Florida and Cornell University has produced a new way to make colloidal "superparticles" from oriented nanorods of semiconducting materials.

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New finding could pave way to faster, smaller electronics

October 23, 2012 8:00 am | News | Comments

University of California, Davis researchers, for the first time, have looked inside gallium manganese arsenide, a type of material known as a "dilute magnetic semiconductor" that could open up an entirely new class of faster, smaller devices based on an emerging field known as spintronics.

NRI to lead five-year effort to develop post-CMOS electronics

October 19, 2012 8:17 am | News | Comments

NIST announced the selection of the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), a collaboration of several key firms in the semiconductor industry, to support university-centered research for the development of after-the-next-generation "nanoelectronics" technology. NRI consists of participants from the semiconductor industry, including GLOBALFOUNDRIES, IBM, Intel, Micron Technology, and Texas Instruments.

Developing the next generation of microsensors

October 18, 2012 8:01 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier | News | Comments

Thanks to an ultrasensitive accelerometer—a type of motion detector—developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester, a new class of microsensors is a step closer to reality. Instead of using an electrical circuit to gauge movements, this accelerometer uses laser light and is so sensitive it could be used to navigate shoppers through a grocery aisle or even stabilize fighter jets.

Another advance on the road to spintronics

October 15, 2012 9:23 am | News | Comments

Using a new technique called HARPES, for hard X-ray angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have unlocked the ferromagnetic secrets of dilute magnetic semiconductors, materials of great interest for spintronic technology.

Researchers create nanoflowers for energy storage, solar cells

October 11, 2012 8:39 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University have created flower-like structures out of germanium sulfide (GeS)—a semiconductor material—that have extremely thin petals with an enormous surface area. The GeS flower holds promise for next-generation energy storage devices and solar cells.

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Scientists simultaneously measure electronic and optical properties of OLEDs

October 9, 2012 3:35 pm | News | Comments

A research team in Japan has succeeded in developing equipment that enables simple, high speed measurement of the band diagrams of organic semiconductor materials in atmospheric conditions. The device essentially combines a spectrophotometer system for studying band gaps with a photoemission yield system to examine ionized potential.

Silicon at the breaking point could be basis for efficient transistors

October 8, 2012 11:53 am | by Paul Piwnicki | News | Comments

When stretched, a layer of silicon can build up internal mechanical strain which can considerably improve its electronic properties. Using this principle, engineers have developed a method which allows them to produce 30-nm-thick highly strained wires in a silicon layer. This strain is the highest that has ever been observed in a material which can serve as the basis for electronic components.

Building 3D structures from a 2D template

October 8, 2012 9:36 am | News | Comments

Silicon is used in components, e.g. filters or deflectors, for telecommunications. So far, however, all these components have been flat, or 2D. Researchers have developed a new etching method for these structures that results 3D microstructures in silicon. Suitable for fiber optic communications, their optical properties are adjustable at the micrometer scale.

Near-field scanning microwave microscope: Big at the nanoscale

October 1, 2012 5:52 am | News | Comments

The ability to determine the composition and physics of nanoscale materials and devices at NIST is about to improve dramatically with the arrival of a new near-field scanning microwave microscope (NSMM) design. Researchers there, using existing commercial and homemade NSMMs, have pioneered many applications, notably including determination of semiconductor dopant distribution in 2D and 3D. Now they hope to look at mechanical and magnetic resonance on the nanoscale.

Method monitors semiconductor etching as it happens

October 1, 2012 3:26 am | News | Comments

University of Illinois researchers have a new, low-cost method to carve delicate features onto semiconductor wafers using light—and watch as it happens. The researchers' new technique can monitor a semiconductor's surface as it is etched, in real time, with nanometer resolution, using a special type of microscope that uses two beams of light to precisely measure topography.

Light helps scientists monitor semiconductor etching as it happens

September 30, 2012 5:36 pm | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, University of Illinois | News | Comments

Semiconductors are commonly shaped by etching with chemicals, but these methods can be . time-consuming, costly, and error-prone. A new technique from researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign can monitor a semiconductor’s surface as it is etched, in real time, with nanometer resolution. It uses a special type of microscope that uses two beams of light to very precisely measure topography.

Novel materials become multifunctional at ultimate quantum limit

September 25, 2012 9:17 am | News | Comments

A University of Arkansas physicist and his colleagues have examined the lower limits of novel materials called complex oxides and discovered that unlike conventional semiconductors the materials not only conduct electricity, but also develop unusual magnetic properties.

Silicon, erbium are built on one chip for the first time

September 24, 2012 4:44 am | News | Comments

Within optical microchips, light finds its way through waveguides made of silicon, and is amplified with the help of other semiconductors, such as gallium arsenide and erbium. But until recent work in The Netherlands, no chip existed on which both silicon and erbium-doped material had been successfully integrated. The new chip now amplifies light up to 170 Gbit/sec.

New photonic wire waveguide transmits data by the terabit

September 20, 2012 8:00 am | News | Comments

A team researchers in Germany has succeeded in developing a highly effective and manufacturing-ready optical connection between semiconductor chips. Their “photonic wire bonding” invention, based on an optical polymer and built using a combination of 3D imaging and laser lithography, reaches data transmission rates in the range of several terabits per second.

Imec demonstrates electronics that flex and stretch like skin

September 18, 2012 6:12 am | News | Comments

Belgium-based semiconductor manufacturing firm imec announced Tuesday that it has integrated an ultra-thin, flexible chip with bendable and stretchable interconnects into a package that adapts dynamically to curving and bending surfaces. The resulting circuitry can be embedded in medical and lifestyle applications where user comfort and unobtrusiveness is key, such as wearable health monitors or smart clothing.

Cutting-edge startup aims for nano-close shave

September 18, 2012 3:37 am | News | Comments

Nano-Sharp Inc., a new company founded using technology developed at the University of California Davis, plans to use silicon wafers to make razor blades and surgical tools far more cheaply than current silicon or ceramic blades. Conventional blades are made by sharpening the edge of a silicon wafer, but the company’s patented new technique creates blades across the surface of the wafer, delivering atom-scale sharpness.

Ancient diatoms could make biofuels and electronics

September 17, 2012 8:51 am | News | Comments

Diatoms, tiny marine life forms that have been around since the dinosaurs, could finally make biofuel production from algae truly cost effective—because they can simultaneously produce other valuable products such as semiconductors, biomedical products, and even health foods. Engineers at Oregon State University concede that such technology is pushing the envelope a bit. But it's not science fiction.

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