Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Chips melt in the terahertz-range

My Note: This is translated from the German. I apologize about any inaccuracies in the translation.
With electrical pulses, researchers can components of phase change materials turn much faster than would be possible with silicon technology.
The search for the computer chips of the future runs on many different paths. As Researchers develop smaller and smaller components to accommodate more of it in less space. Because the currently common silicon technology slowly but surely pushes through this miniaturization reaches its limits, are in the plans of chip developers such as IBM alternative materials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes are used to invest in the company billions of dollars.
A completely different approach to faster computers have now researchers presented to Desmond Loke from Cambridge and Singapore. They used a so-called phase-change material that can switch up to three times faster than silicon devices. Therefore, it can drive a higher clock. In the laboratory, the scientists created a prototype of an electronic component made of an alloy of the semiconductor germanium, antimony and tellurium. This they melted by means of electric voltage pulses from the partially crystalline in a glassy state.
The prototype consisted of a 35 nanometers thick layer of semiconductor alloy between two thicker layers of titanium-tungsten on a silicon wafer was deposited. The researchers looked at it with component measurements of the electrical resistance and computer models. This showed that the atoms of the semiconductor alloy triggered by the inflow of energy from the voltage pulse from its crystal structure. A melting process began. This phase transition caused a change in the conductivity of the component. Based on the prototype itself was used as a switch, the logical operations such as NOR and NOT executed by electric pulses - the basis on which expects a computer.
So far, came in such a phase transition switches the reverse process for the course: It crystallized material and so changed its conductivity. However, this process is relatively slow. If you want to speed it up, the system is unreliable. The experiment of Cambridge manages to solve this problem. The researchers now see on the right path to allow computers with clock frequencies in the terahertz range.
© Spektrum.de

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