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Researchers create chip-shrinking tech

Researchers create chip-shrinking tech

The technology developed by the researchers uses silicon oxide elements just 5nm wide.

Researchers at Rice University, Texas have stumbled on a technique for creating ultra-small digital switches, which they claim could lead to single chips that store as much data as the biggest hard drive within five years.

According to coverage of the breakthrough on The New York Times, the team of scientists are working on developing a new breed of digital switch that graduate researcher Jun Yao discovered by accident.

Based around silicon oxide, making adoption in today's silicon-driven chip foundries relatively straightforward, the new chips should be able to shrink to far smaller scales than current technology allows - although such developments have yet to be fully proven.

The team has succeeded in creating chips based around the technique, which uses filaments of silicon oxide just five nanometres thick, capable of storing 1Kb of data. While that isn't a great deal, the future potential is such that the team is predicting storage systems based around the technology to be able to store vast quantities of data in a single IC within five years, potentially allowing the technology to take over from traditional hard disks and even NAND-based solid-state devices.

The team has published its findings in the journal Nano Letters, where it will undergo peer review before hopefully being picked up by a major corporation for commercialisation.

Are you pleased to see that we might be able to keep Moore's Law on track for another few decades, or will it take more than a 1Kb chip in a lab to convince you that silicon oxide will form the chips of the future? Share your thoughts over in the forums

14 Comments

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perplekks45 1st September 2010, 11:13 Quote
How come I can't comment on the article?

Anyway: this would be amazing but in 5 years... who knows what else we will have by then? :|
Combatus 1st September 2010, 11:17 Quote
You can now!
perplekks45 1st September 2010, 11:47 Quote
;)
Kenny_McCormick 1st September 2010, 13:22 Quote
This sounds promising, lots of great things were discovered by accident.
javaman 1st September 2010, 13:36 Quote
Sounds good, can see Pricing killing it tho.
Showerhead 1st September 2010, 13:40 Quote
So long as yield from this technique is good it shouldn't be too expensive the raw materials are cheaper as all you need is sand not any metals from reading the blurb on the journal. Be interesting to see if it lives up to it's claims they make it sound like a wonder material.
Jezcentral 1st September 2010, 14:21 Quote
"Keep Moore's Law on track for another few decades"? Another 3 or 4 years perhaps!
AshT 1st September 2010, 14:59 Quote
The moore (heh) discoveries to better tech the better. Keep 'em coming!
Blanx3_Bytex 1st September 2010, 15:12 Quote
But can it play crysis?
TWeaK 1st September 2010, 16:12 Quote
Sounds pretty damned interesting, however I think that this will probably be the limit of silicon oxide. Unfortunately, after that we're looking at more exotic (and thus more expensive) compounds.
Xir 2nd September 2010, 13:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Showerhead
the raw materials are cheaper as all you need is sand not any metals

Well, the stuff that ultra-pure silicon is made of is, technically, sand.
You might try however to sell ordinary sand to a silicon company...good luck! :D
mecblade 2nd September 2010, 14:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
Quote:
Originally Posted by Showerhead
the raw materials are cheaper as all you need is sand not any metals

Well, the stuff that ultra-pure silicon is made of is, technically, sand.
You might try however to sell ordinary sand to a silicon company...good luck! :D

I forsee beaches across the world stripped of its sand at night by rich men who happened to suddenly appear. 4 x 4s lined up all over the coast with people dumping as much sand as possible into their cars.
PingCrosby 2nd September 2010, 18:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenny_McCormick
This sounds promising, lots of great things were discovered by accident.

Quite true Kenny, why only the other week I found a chip in the back pocket of my pants, it had shrunk to half its size and was covered in a quite strange coloured fluff, however a quick rinse off in the cats water bowl and a splash of vinegar and it was bleedin delicious. And to think if I hadn't been searching for that half eaten fried egg I would never have found it. Bravo for accidents old bean.
Gareth Halfacree 2nd September 2010, 18:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by PingCrosby
Quite true Kenny, why only the other week I found a chip in the back pocket of my pants, it had shrunk to half its size and was covered in a quite strange coloured fluff, however a quick rinse off in the cats water bowl and a splash of vinegar and it was bleedin delicious. And to think if I hadn't been searching for that half eaten fried egg I would never have found it. Bravo for accidents old bean.
You, sir, win the Internets.
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