Could technology developed at the University of Canterbury (UC) be the key to next generation electronics?
A UC team is seeking a breakthrough nano-technology for computer microchips. If successful, it would mean that a Kiwi developed technology could become the next hot item in integrated circuit manufacture.
Computers and other electronic devices have been getting smaller, faster and more functional over the last 30 years.
UC mechanical engineering professor Susan Krumdieck says in 2010 the previously rapid growth in transistor density slowed down.
``This is primarily because the physical limits of properties of materials at the nano-scale are starting to feature in the function of the transistor.
``Researchers have been looking into different materials that might be able to be scaled down further. However, the work-horse of the electronic world – silicon – is still the best material for building semi-conductor electronics.
``Researchers at the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (Imec), a world leading Belgium-based research company in nano-electronics, are working on an idea for the next generation of ever-smaller circuits.
``They work in innovative partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Their research is typically three to 10 years ahead of industry.
``At a recent international conference in Ireland, a researcher from Imec approached me to discuss my ceramic coating technology.
``He had not found any other way, but he thought that the chemical process technology used to produce thin ceramic material films that I had developed here at UC could provide a solution. We are continuing research in this area,’’ Professor Krumdieck says.
UC mechanical engineer Dr Catherine Bishop, chemistry lecturer Dr Sarah Masters, Associate Professor Maan Alkaisi and Professor Krumdieck are starting work on a research project to step up the game in nano-electronics.
The research seeks to both develop and fine tune the processing conditions to create the material Imec is seeking.