Solving an organic semiconductor mysteryOrganic semiconductors are prized for light emitting diodes (LEDs), field effect transistors (FETs) and photovoltaic cells. As they can be printed from solution, they provide a highly scalable, cost-effective alternative to silicon-based devices. Uneven performances, however, have been a persistent problem. Scientists have known that the performance issues originate in the domain interfaces within organic semiconductor thin films, but have not known the cause. This mystery now appears to have been solved.Naomi Ginsberg, a faculty chemist with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, led a team that used a unique form of microscopy to study the domain interfaces within an especially high-performing solution-processed organic semiconductor called TIPS-pentacene. She and her team discovered a cluttered jumble of randomly oriented nanocrystallites that … [Read more...] about Research Alert: January 26, 2015
Photonic research impact factor
Chipmakers are readying their next-generation technologies based on 10nm and/or 7nm finFETs, but it’s still not clear how long the finFET will last, how long the 10nm and 7nm nodes for high-end devices will be extended, and what comes next.The industry faces a multitude of uncertainties and challenges at 5nm, 3nm and beyond. Even today, traditional chip scaling continues to slow as process complexities and costs escalate at each node. As a result, fewer customers can afford to design chips around advanced nodes.In theory, finFETs are expected to scale to 5nm as defined by Intel. (A fully-scaled 5nm process is roughly equivalent to 3nm from the foundries). Regardless of the confusing node names, the finFET likely will run out of steam when the fin width reaches 5nm. So at 5nm or beyond, chipmakers will need a new solution. Otherwise, traditional chip scaling will slow down or stop completely.For some time, chipmakers have been exploring various transistor options for 5nm and … [Read more...] about What’s After FinFETs?
There are plenty of reasons why it’s useful to transfer information through photons or use light particles to carry out tasks within a system or device, speed chief among them. But in order to use photons with even greater dexterity in the future, researchers will need to control the way light behaves as it passes through a material. One way to do this is by adjusting the material’s refractive index to cause light to travel faster or slower through it. This is a particularly good option for materials that naturally alter their refractive index according to the intensity of light to which they are exposed. Such materials behave differently depending on whether the light passing through comes from a low-power source or a high-powered laser. These materials are known as optically nonlinear. In the world of photonics, having a higher degree of optical nonlinearity is considered an attractive trait. Now a team led by Robert Boyd, a physicist at the University of Ottawa … [Read more...] about Indium Tin Oxide Might Be the Material Photonics Has Been Waiting For
Since 1980, the number of bits per second that can be sent down an optical fiber has increased some 10 millionfold. That’s remarkable even by the standards of late-20th-century electronics. It’s more than the jump in the number of transistors on chips during that same period, as described by Moore’s Law. There ought to be a law here, too. Call it Keck’s Law, in honor of Donald Keck. He’s the coinventor of low-loss optical fiber and has tracked the impressive growth in its capacity. Maybe giving the trend a name of its own will focus attention on one of the world’s most unsung industrial achievements. Moore’s Law may get all the attention. But it’s the combination of fast electronics and fiber-optic communications that has created “the magic of the network we have today,” according to Pradeep Sindhu, chief technical officer at Juniper Networks. The strongly interacting electron is ideal for speedy switches that can be used in … [Read more...] about Is Keck’s Law Coming to an End?
Neural networks are taking the world of computing by storm. Researchers have used them to create machines that are learning a huge range of skills that had previously been the unique preserve of humans—object recognition, face recognition, natural language processing, machine translation. All these skills, and more, are now becoming routine for machines. So there is great interest in creating more capable neural networks that can push the boundaries of artificial intelligence even further. The focus of this work is in creating circuits that operate more like neurons, so-called neuromorphic chips. But how to make these circuits significantly faster?Today, we get an answer of sorts thanks to the work of Alexander Tait and pals at Princeton University in New Jersey. These guys have built an integrated silicon photonic neuromorphic chip and show that it computes at ultrafast speeds. Optical computing has long been the great dream of computer science. Photons have … [Read more...] about Silicon Photonic Neural Network Unveiled
Silicon photonics is gaining significant traction inside the data center, but creating a simpler method of packaging the laser with other circuitry remains a stumbling block for cutting costs and using this technology across a wider swath of applications. Progress does appear to be on the horizon, even though exact time frames remain unclear.The advantages of light in communications are well known. Photons are faster, cooler and lower power than electrons. Moreover, there is virtually no limit to the amount of data that light can carry over both long and short distances. Fiber optics have been in commercial use since the mid-1970s, and they have been undergoing improvements ever since. Silicon photonics is a more recent addition, rolling out in something of a piecemeal fashion since the early 1990s.Commercial usage of silicon photonics started beaming to life last year in data centers, and the overall market for this technology is expected to grow significantly over the next decade. … [Read more...] about Light In A Package
Technavio analysts forecast the global silicon photonics market to grow at an impressive CAGR of over 48% during the forecast period, according to their latest report.The research study covers the present scenario and growth prospects of the global silicon photonics market for 2016-2020. The report also segments the market on the basis of application into the three categories consisting of communications, consumer electronics and others, with communications accounting for 95% of the market. The use of silicon photonics components in the consumer electronics sector is limited to a mere 1% during the forecast period, however, this segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 48% during the forecast period. Other sectors such as medical, military, and robotics present considerable growth potential for this technology. The others sector will grow at a CAGR of close to 61% during the forecast period.The silicon photonics technology can achieve speeds of up to … [Read more...] about Global silicon photonics market to grow at a CAGR of over 48% through 2020
HPC Yet the path toward an even faster Internet has been hindered by energy consumption and cost per optical component, said Wei Shi, Assistant Professor, Université Laval in Québec, Canada. Shi and his colleagues have designed a tunable filter — an important component of high-capacity optical networks — that should save both money and energy because it can be readily integrated onto a photonic chip.The device’s performance is comparable to the best bench-top systems, but at a fraction of the size and cost. The filter’s tuning span, which is a measure of how well the device can adjust to fluctuating data demands, is the widest ever demonstrated on a silicon chip. Additionally, the device has an unlimited free-spectral range, meaning it can operate over any range of frequencies, and shows excellent performance metrics in other standard measures of filter quality, including very low insertion loss and in-band ripples, … [Read more...] about Optimized Internet: New Filter has Widest Tuning Span Ever Demonstrated on Silicon
The world at the atomic scale is never at rest, with particles moving so quickly and molecular bonds changing so rapidly that we have been unable to capture their motion directly until now. Previously, we’ve had to rely on static pictures of the molecular world (using X-ray synchrotrons or electron microscopes), or infer dynamic behavior from spectroscopic signatures (using short-pulse optical lasers). All that changed in 2009, when the world’s first X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) was successfully commissioned. The field of ultrafast X-ray science took a huge leap forward – with a source that was billions of times brighter than anything that came before, delivering bursts of X-rays on timescales that are many orders of magnitude shorter – reaching the femtosecond domain.A flash of light as short as this can freeze the motion of atoms in molecules, allowing us to make slow-motion movies of how nature works. A femtosecond (a millionth of a billionth of a second) … [Read more...] about Ultrafast X-Ray Science: Groundbreaking Laser Takes Discovery to New Extremes
Quantum Computers, Part 2: Zeros and Ones, Both and Neither At universities and companies around the globe, there are people plugging away trying to solve the myriad technological challenges of quantum computers. But that doesn't mean practical applications of quantum computing are some futuristic fantasy. Already, quantum technology is trickling into the real world.One big leap happened earlier this year when security company Lockheed Martin purchased the 128-qubit "D Wave One," which Forbes calledthe first commercially available quantum computer. (This isn't certain because, as Bristol University's Jeremy O'Brien noted, "If it's that important that you're using this technology, you wouldn't want to advertise.")D Wave refuses to let the perfect get in the way of the good, commented Geordie Rose, the chief technology officer at D Wave. Even if the prototypical quantum computer doesn't yet exist, D Wave is proof that the tools are in place to build infant quantum computers -- and an … [Read more...] about Quantum Computers, Part 3: A Whole New World