*NEWS*INKJET CRANKES OUT MICROCHIPS

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*NEWS*INKJET CRANKES OUT MICROCHIPS

 user 2007-03-19 at 9:33:00 am Views: 58
  • #17487

    Inkjet printers start cranking out microchips
    Nanoident Technologies is literally squirting out semiconductors.
    The
    company has officially opened a factory in Linz, Austria, that produces
    organic semiconductors, which are chips made by spraying intricate
    patterns of specialized ink onto layers of foil and polymer.The factory
    is capable of producing 40,000 square meters of semiconductors a year,
    says Wasiq Bokhari, CEO of Bioident, a related company that will market
    Nanoident chips to the health market. The initial customers will be
    sister companies of Nanoident, but the company has also formed
    alliances with water testing companies and other industrial concerns.A
    traditional factory that can produce 40,000 square meters of silicon
    computer chips would cost about US$1.3 billion and require about 5,000
    employees, he said in an interview. The Nanoident factory costs about
    US$10 million and can be run by about 50 people.Organic semiconductors,
    however, won’t function as memory chips in computers or as processors.
    They are far slower and degrade over time. Instead, organic
    semiconductors will be targeted at one-time-only applications such as
    water purity testers: insert a water drop and the chip will analyze the
    chemicals floating inside of the drop. The company has also devised
    lab-on-a-chip chips that can extract data about a person’s health
    through a blood sample.Organic materials have already crept into some
    fields. Cell phone manufacturers already sell phones with screens made
    from organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs, but few other commercial
    applications exist. Most of the time, organic chips appear as part of
    scientific papers. At University of California at Berkeley, for
    instance, researchers have printed an organic semiconductor that can
    tell its user if a bottle of wine has gone bad.Traditional silicon
    chips are too expensive for these types of applications, which now are
    conducted on lab equipment, the company says.The company currently has
    yields–a measure of the number of good chips that come out of a
    manufacturing run–of about 70 percent and will get to 80 percent,
    Bokhari said.

    Building the organic beast
    One
    of the key differences between regular and organic semiconductors is
    how transistors get laid down. In standard chips, lithography machines
    sketch a circuit pattern. Trenches are then dug into silicon and filled
    with metal through a complex series of chemical spraying and
    etchings.With organic semiconductors, 128 inkjet nozzles spray a
    pattern onto foil or polymer. Researchers, though, have to account for
    interactions between the ink and the different layers, and the
    performance character of the ink.Printed semiconductors have far larger
    features than silicon chips. Nanoident’s first chips will have features
    measuring 10 to 100 microns wide. That’s more than 100 times larger
    than the features inserted into silicon chips. Current silicon chips
    sport 65-nanometer features (a nanometer is one thousandth of a
    micron).”We can go below 10 microns, but what are the applications that
    would require that?” Bokhari said. “We’d need a compelling reason for
    high-speed devices.”Organic semiconductors, however, can come in a
    variety of sizes. Nanoident has built some that measure 160 centimeters
    a side, or more than 1.5 meters wide. These large devices are used as
    sensors.”You can’t do that with silicon,” he said.