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Chementator Briefs

By Gerald Ondrey |

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Light-emitting Si Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE; the Netherlands; www.tue.nl) have developed an alloy with silicon that can emit light. Together with researchers from the universities of Jena, Linz and Munich, the researchers combined silicon and germanium in a hexagonal structure that is able to emit light — a breakthrough after 50 years of work. The findings, published in a recent issue of Nature, are a first step towards revolutionizing computing by making chips faster. In contrast to electrons, photons do not experience resistance. As they have no mass or charge, they will scatter less within the material they travel through, and therefore no heat is produced. The energy consumption will therefore be reduced. Moreover, by replacing electrical communication within a chip by optical communication, the speed of on-chip and chip-to-chip communication can be increased by a factor of 1,000, according to TUE. To use light in chips, an integrated laser is required. The main semiconductor material that computer chips are made of is silicon. But bulk silicon is extremely inefficient at emitting light, and so was long thought to play no role in photonics. Thus, scientists turned to more complex semiconductors,…
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