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So far Nathan Barnes has created 179 entries.

‘Magic’ alloy could spur next generation of solar cells

From phys.org:

“In what could be a major step forward for a new generation of solar cells called “concentrator photovoltaics,” University of Michigan researchers have developed a new semiconductor alloy that can capture the near-infrared light located on the leading edge of the visible light spectrum.

Easier to manufacture and at least 25 percent less costly than previous formulations, it’s believed to be the world’s most cost-effective material that can capture near-infrared light—and is compatible with the gallium arsenide semiconductors often used in concentrator photovoltaics.

Concentrator photovoltaics gather and focus sunlight onto small, high-efficiency solar cells made of gallium arsenide or germanium semiconductors. They’re on track to achieve efficiency rates of over 50 percent, while conventional flat-panel silicon solar cells top out in the mid-20s.

“Flat-panel silicon is basically maxed out in terms of efficiency,” said Rachel Goldman, U-M professor of materials science and engineering, and physics, whose lab developed the alloy. “The cost of silicon isn’t going down and efficiency isn’t going up. Concentrator photovoltaics could power the next generation.”

Varieties of concentrator photovoltaics exist today. They are made of three different semiconductor alloys layered together. Sprayed onto a semiconductor wafer in a process called molecular-beam epitaxy—a bit like spray painting with individual […]

June 15th, 2017|General News Feed|

New method for making green LEDs enhances their efficiency and brightness

From phys.org:

“Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign have developed a new method for making brighter and more efficient green light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Using an industry-standard semiconductor growth technique, they have created gallium nitride (GaN) cubic crystals grown on a silicon substrate that are capable of producing powerful green light for advanced solid-state lighting.

“This work is very revolutionary as it paves the way for novel green wavelength emitters that can target advanced solid-state lighting on a scalable CMOS-silicon platform by exploiting the new material, cubic gallium nitride,” said Can Bayram, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois who first began investigating this material while at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center several years ago.

“The union of solid-state lighting with sensing (e.g. detection) and networking (e.g. communication) to enable smart (i.e. responsive and adaptive) visible lighting, is further poised to revolutionize how we utilize light. And CMOS-compatible LEDs can facilitate fast, efficient, low-power, and multi-functional technology solutions with less of a footprint and at an ever more affordable device price point for these applications.”

Typically, GaN forms in one of two crystal structures: hexagonal or cubic. Hexagonal GaN is thermodynamically stable and is by far the more […]

June 15th, 2017|General News Feed|

Paris Accord: As U.S. Drops Out, Chipmakers Double Down

From EETimes.com:

“LONDON – The semiconductor industry has responded to President Trump’s plan to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord with resounding reaffirmations of the industry’s commitment to sustainable and energy-efficient manufacturing practices.

Semiconductor companies including AMD, IBM, and Intel, alongside other tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft, have signed an open letter expressing their commitment to action on climate change. For chip companies, adopting sustainable processes appears to be as much a matter of sound business practice as of social responsibility.

Intel, in particular, had called for the United States to stay in the agreement before the president announced his decision. “Climate change is a real issue, and we firmly believe that the U.S. should continue to participate in the Paris Climate Accord,” Stephen Harper, global director for environment and energy policy at Intel, said in the days leading up to the announcement. “Withdrawal won’t change our investment in renewable energy, and we will continue to advocate for the U.S. to engage.”

Harper further explained Intel’s position in a blog post, writing that pulling out of the Accord “would expose U.S. industry to a climate policy-constrained market over which we have greatly reduced influence.”

Industry association SEMI […]

June 15th, 2017|General News Feed|

Manufacturing hybrid silicon lasers for mass-produced photonic devices

From phys.org:

“Producing semiconductor lasers on a silicon wafer is a long-held goal for the electronics industry, but their fabrication has proved challenging. Now, researchers at A*STAR have developed an innovative way to manufacture them that is cheap, simple and scalable.

Hybrid silicon lasers combine the light-emitting properties of group III–V semiconductors, like gallium arsenide and indium phosphide, with the maturity of silicon manufacturing techniques. These lasers are attracting considerable attention as they promise inexpensive, mass-producible optical devices that can integrate with photonic and microelectronic elements on a single silicon chip. They have potential in a wide range of applications, from short-distance data communication to high-speed, long-distance optical transmission.

In the current production process, however, lasers are fabricated on separate III–V semiconductor wafers before being individually aligned to each silicon device—a time-consuming, costly process that limits the number of lasers that can be placed on a chip.

To overcome these limitations, Doris Keh-Ting Ng and her colleagues from the A*STAR Data Storage Institute have developed an innovative method for producing a hybrid III–V semiconductor and silicon-on-insulator (SOI) optical microcavity. This greatly reduces the complexity of the fabrication process and results in a more compact device.

“It’s very challenging to etch the entire cavity,” says […]

June 14th, 2017|General News Feed|

China Risk: Risks from China Emerging in Korean Semiconductor Sector

From Business Korea:

“The combined operating profit of the semiconductor division of Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix is estimated to reach no less than 20 trillion won in the first half of this year. The boom of the Korean semiconductor industry, however, is predicted to face risks from China in the near future. “The rapid rise in semiconductor prices during last year is because of inventory accumulation on the part of Chinese IT companies and the current boom is only temporary,” UBS Securities mentioned in February this year, adding, “DRAM and NAND flash supply gluts are likely to be witnessed on a large scale in the latter half of this year.”

According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the inventory accumulation in China rose from 277.5 billion yuan to a record high of 333 billion yuan between January and August 2015 and then fell to 278.4 billion yuan in the first month of last year before rebounding to 330.5 billion yuan in April this year. The rate of year-on-year increase stands at a single digit or below 0% these days whereas it used to amount to 20% to 50% in 2015. In other words, a significant increase in Chinese […]

June 14th, 2017|General News Feed|

An energy-efficient cleaning robot

From phys.org:

“State-of-the-art solar cells are efficient – but are even more so when they are kept clean. A cleaning robot developed by Norwegian researchers enables solar panels to deliver at full capacity.

At a solar energy farm just outside Budapest in Hungary, a cleaning robot is industriously getting on with today’s task. Hundreds of square metres of solar panels are waiting to be cleaned – as quickly and effectively as possible. And without the use of chemicals or any unwanted discharges to the natural environment. The robot is the result of a joint project between Norwegian researchers and the Hungarian company ProDSP Technology.

“It’s a well known fact that solar panels work more efficiently when they’re clean,” says SINTEF researcher and Project Manager Martin Bellmann who, in his day-to-day work, develops what is known as sustainable energy technology. “But what’s new here is that we’ve developed a robot to do the job. This means that the solar cells are cleaned both quickly and efficiently with as little as possible wear and tear or environmental impact,” he says.

There’s dirt and there’s dirt

Cleaning solar cells using a robot may sound like a straightforward job – but there’s dirt and there’s dirt. And when […]

June 14th, 2017|General News Feed|

Low source/drain contact resistivity for PMOS transistors

From newelectronics:

“In 5nm and 7nm nodes, the source/drain contact area of the transistors is so small that the contact resistance threatens to result in suboptimal transistor functioning.

Researchers have therefore been working on techniques to reduce the contact resistance on highly doped n-Silicon and p-SiliconGermanium (p-SiGe) source/drain contacts, aiming for values below 10^-9Ω.cm².

At the 2017 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits, imec reported record breaking values below 10^-9Ω.cm² for PMOS source/drain contact resistivity. These results were obtained through shallow gallium implantation on p-SiGe source/drain contacts with pulsed nanosecond laser anneal.

“This breakthrough achievement in our search to develop solutions for next generation deeply-scaled CMOS provides a possible path for further performance improvement using the current source/drain schemes in 5nm and 7nm nodes,” commented Naoto Horiguchi, distinguished member of the technical staff at imec.

imec researchers added a high dose of gallium or boron into SiGe separate wafers and applied various anneal processes. They then fabricated multi-ring circular transmission line model structures, which are highly sensitive to contact resistance.

This process causes a gallium doped germanium surface segregation, which is responsible for the ultralow sub-10^-9Ω.cm² contact resistivity.”

Read more: Low source/drain contact resistivity for PMOS transistors reposted by Silicon Valley Microelectronics.

June 13th, 2017|General News Feed|

Chinese tech giant Xiaomi eyes global market with custom chip

From phys.org:

“Chinese technology giant Xiaomi on Tuesday unveiled an in-house processor, setting its sights on a top-tier global market long dominated by American companies.

With the launch of its Surge S1 chipset, Xiaomi joins a rarified group of smartphone manufacturers with self-designed processors—the only others are Apple, Samsung and Chinese telecom company Huawei.

“The ability to create its own chipsets is the pinnacle achievement for any smartphone company,” said Lei Jun, Xiaomi’s CEO and co-founder.

Lei also introduced the Mi 5C, the first smartphone to be powered by the custom processor, and a new edition to its Redmi phone line at an event for media and “Mi fans.”

Custom chipsets are designed to enhance the user experience by making the phone’s software and hardware more cohesive.

The Surge S1 was developed by a Xiaomi subsidiary called Pinecone that had been discreetly formed in 2014.

“China is now on the cutting edge of microchip technology,” Sun Changxu, a technology analyst for several trade magazines, told AFP. “Xiaomi’s release today is strategically significant.”

The company previously relied on chips made by MediaTek in Taiwan and Qualcomm in the United States.

Qualcomm’s dominance in processor manufacturing has been challenged by antitrust investigations in several countries over the last few years, […]

June 13th, 2017|General News Feed|

Texas Instruments Sees “A Lot Of Opportunities” In China

From Forbes:

“Texas Instruments, one of the world’s semiconductor makers, sees solid growth prospects in China owing to its strengths some of the country’s largest markets, including autos, industrial goods and personal electronics, the company’s top China executive said in an interview with Forbes China.

“We foresee in the next couple of years, still, that we have a lot of opportunities in the market,” said Texas Instruments’ China President Sandy Hu said the sidelines of an award event on Friday to celebrate Forbes China’s 2017 list of the country’s most successful businesswomen.  Hu ranked No. 74 on the ranking, which was first unveiled in January.

TI was a relatively early U.S. investor in China during the reform era, marking its 30th year in the country in 2016.   That effort has yielded results: Of TI’s total revenue of $13.4 billion last year, some $6.0 billion was from products shipped into China, including Hong Kong, according to the company’s latest annual report. That compares with $5.8 billion in 2015 and $5.7 billion in 2014.

The company is particularly hopeful about China’s automotive market, expecting it to top the world with sales of as many as 35 million units in 2025, Hu said.  The dollar value […]

June 13th, 2017|General News Feed|

Floating solar farm reflects China’s clean energy ambitions

From phys.org:

“As the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate pact, China’s clean energy ambitions were being reflected in the launch of the world’s largest floating solar farm.

The 40-megawatt power plant has 160,000 panels resting on a lake that emerged after the collapse of a coal mine in central Anhui province.It is part of Beijing’s effort to wean itself off a fossil fuel dependency that has made it the world’s top carbon emitter, with two-thirds of its electricity still fuelled by coal.

The solar facility went online around the time of President Donald Trump’s much-criticised June 2 decision to withdraw from the international accord aimed at saving the planet from climate change catastrophe.

His move shifted the spotlight onto China and whether it will take on the leadership mantle in the fight against global warming.

Days after his announcement—and by coincidence—Beijing hosted an international conference on clean energy.

It was an opportunity for China, which already produces two-thirds of the world’s solar panels, to boast of its commitment to accelerating investment and reforms for greater use of renewable energies.

“The US’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement offers China an unprecedented opportunity to take the lead in climate change,” energy expert Frank Yu of […]

June 12th, 2017|General News Feed|

Gigastorage running at full ingot growing capacity

From Digitimes.com:

“Solar-grade polycrystalline silicon wafer maker Gigastorage has fully utilized production capacity for polycrystalline silicon ingot growing and about 70% ingots are from export or outsourced orders, according to company chairman Jimmy Chen.

Gigastorage is shifting from slurry-based slicing to diamond wire-based slicing, which has reached a monthly capacity of two million wafers, Chen said.

Long-term supply contracts for polysilicon have expired allowing Gigastorage to reduce material costs since current contract prices are much higher than spot market prices, Chen indicated.

In view of fast growing demand for diamond wire in China, Gigastorage has invested in a diamond wire maker established in Yancheng, eastern China, via its subsidiary Giga Solar Materials. The diamond wire maker currently has 10 production lines with monthly capacity of 30,000km, and will expand capacity to 60,000km by adding five lines each month in June and July.

Gigastorage has set up a subsidiary specifically for investment in PV power generation. The subsidiary has completed PV power-generating stations with total installation capacity of 36MWp. In addition, the subsidiary has invested in PV power-generating stations with total installation capacity of 50MWp in the Philippines, with 10MWp to be completed in July and 40MWp at the end of 2017, and another 19MWp […]

June 12th, 2017|General News Feed|

Infrastructure plan to provide stable water, power for semiconductor industry: Tsai

From The China Post:

“TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Tsai Ing-wen said Thursday the government planned to improve water and electricity conditions to meet the needs of the semiconductor industry through its Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program. Tsai made the statement during a meeting with Sanjay Mehrotra, the newly appointed president and CEO of Micron Technology. She also vowed to devote as much effort as possible to help Micron expand its operations in Taiwan.

Taiwan is the first stop in Mehrotra’s global tour of Micron’s manufacturing sites and comes just over a month since he assumed leadership at the Idaho-based firm.

Tsai said Mehrotra has extensive industry experience and that he recognized the key advantages Taiwan’s talent and firms possessed in the global supply chain. Choosing Taiwan as the Micron’s main research and production base, as well as a hub for leading-edge dynamic random access memory (DRAM) development, would create a win-win situation for both Micron and Taiwan, she added.

Citing an article in The Economist, Tsai said foreign investors had been optimistic about Taiwan in the past year, as demonstrated by the rapid increase of foreign direct investments in the country’s electronics sector.A major reason for the bolstered confidence in the Taiwan market was […]

June 9th, 2017|General News Feed|

SOI wafers are suitable substrates for gallium nitride crystals

From phys.org:

“In cooperation with Okmetic Oy and the Polish ITME, researchers at Aalto University have studied the application of SOI (Silicon On Insulator) wafers, which are used as a platform for manufacturing different microelectronics components, as a substrate for producing gallium nitride crystals. The researchers compared the characteristics of gallium nitride (GaN) layers grown on SOI wafers to those grown on silicon substrates more commonly used for the process. In addition to high-performance silicon wafers, Okmetic also manufactures SOI wafers, in which a layer of silicon dioxide insulator is sandwiched between two silicon layers. The objective of the SOI technology is to improve the capacitive and insulating characteristics of the wafer.

“We used a standardised manufacturing process for comparing the wafer characteristics. GaN growth on SOI wafers produced a higher crystalline quality layer than on silicon wafers. In addition, the insulating layer in the SOI wafer improves breakdown characteristics, enabling the use of clearly higher voltages in power electronics. Similarly, in high frequency applications, the losses and crosstalk can be reduced,” explains Jori Lemettinen, a doctoral candidate from the Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering.

“GaN based components are becoming more common in power electronics and radio applications. The performance of GaN […]

June 9th, 2017|General News Feed|

Insights into Opto-Electrical Properties of Two-Dimensional Semiconductor Nanocrystals

From Azonano.com:

“Now a Research team headed by Dr Christian Klinke at the University of Hamburg has been victorious in demonstrating the electronic spin effects in nanoplatelets. This research might pave the way for the development of highly powerful and cost-efficient transistors and computer chips that consume lesser power in the future. The research has demonstrated that these two-dimensional materials are also favorable as they are less costly to synthesize extensively in a lab.

The focus of Dr Christian Klinke’s team is around the production and characterization of two-dimensional semiconductor nanocrystals. Not only the structure but also the electrical and optical characteristics of the nanoplatelets can be adjusted ‒ through quantum mechanical effects—the reason why these materials are readily used in computer circuits and solar cells.

While the functioning of the classical devices is dependent on the movement of electrons, functioning of the spintronic components is dependent on electron spin orientation. Light passing through special optical elements is circularly polarized, i.e. the light receives a torque. When semiconductor materials are illuminated using circular-polarized light, the electrical charges can be aligned to correspond to their spin (torque) and converted into an electrical current without the need for voltage supply. Analysis of the produced current […]

June 9th, 2017|General News Feed|

Nitrades in transition

From phys.org:

“The average, everyday person might not be familiar with gallium nitride, also known as GaN, but there is a good chance they’ve heard of silicon, a semiconductor that’s been used for decades and found in every computer and most electronics.

As a semiconductor, GaN is similar to silicon, but it differs in its elemental makeup and properties, which makes it a more robust, rugged type of electronic material. GaN’s qualities allow it to operate at nearly five times higher power and temperature than silicon and commercial commodity semiconductors in certain applications.

Solid-state (or LED) lighting and wireless data transmitters for cell phone base stations are two examples where GaN has made a considerable impact over the past few years. Power switching components for solar inverters and electric vehicles are also moving towards GaN technology due to its ability to improve efficiency.

“GaN technology ultimately saves energy compared to incumbent technologies and can typically be packaged in smaller and lighter form factors,” said Dr. David Meyer, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) section head for wide bandgap materials and devices in the Electronics Science and Technology Division.

During the 90s, the Navy and other DoD agencies invested a large amount of funding in basic […]

June 9th, 2017|General News Feed|

TSMC will consider Taiwan sites ahead of offshore ones for new foundry

From Reuters:

“Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, said on Thursday it will consider sites in Taiwan before offshore options when it decides the location of a multi-billion dollar foundry early next year.

The Taiwan government is helping the company find the ideal location for an advanced technology 3-nanometer chip plant, it added.

“We do not exclude locations in other countries, but a Taiwan location will be our first consideration,” acting spokeswoman Elizabeth Sun told reporters on the sidelines of a shareholders’ meeting.

The plan comes at a time when other tech heavyweights, like Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, which goes by the trade name of Foxconn, and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, look to deepen investment in their U.S. businesses. This follows Donald Trump’s presidential win last year, built on a campaign promise to boost American manufacturing and jobs.

TSMC Chairman Morris Chang said in January he would not rule out a U.S. plant but added that such a move would involve sacrifices for both the company and consumers, pointing to the benefits of being able to shift engineers across the firm’s Taiwan factories.

TSMC, a major supplier to Apple Inc, has also flagged plans for the development of 5-nanometer chip […]

June 9th, 2017|General News Feed|

New approach could transform semiconductor tech

From phys.org:

“Recent research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln may help future engineers of digital components get two (or more) for the space of one.

A team of physicists has demonstrated a reversible method for altering the electronic properties of a nanoscopic material, pointing the way toward merging several hallmark functions of modern electronics into a single component.

The approach might ultimately allow a 2-D material to shift from digital processing to data storage to light-triggered applications. That versatility, in turn, could give engineers additional options for scaling down electronics by squeezing more functionality into one device.

Xia Hong and her colleagues started with an atomically thin slice of molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2, a chemical compound whose semiconducting properties resemble those of industry favorite silicon. They then overlaid the MoS2 with a polymer featuring ferroelectricity – the ability to reverse the alignment of its separated positive and negative charges, or polarization, by applying an electric field to it.

The researchers discovered that they could radically reconfigure the electronic behavior of the MoS2 by selectively applying voltage across the polymer to dictate the direction of its polarization.

When Hong’s team aligned the polymer’s positive or negative charges either toward or away from the layer of MoS2, […]

June 9th, 2017|General News Feed|

China May Become No. 2 Fab Spender by 2018

From EETimes.com:

“TAIPEI — China is expected to become the world’s second-largest spender on chip equipment by 2018 as a number of startups in the nation start ramping up new fabs.

China will increase overall fab spending, including construction and equipment, by 54 percent annually as the nation’s spending rises from $3.5 billion in 2016 to $5.4 billion in 2017, according to global chip equipment industry association SEMI. By 2018, the figure will jump to $8.6 billion in 2018, according to SEMI.

The bullish forecast comes as market research firm Gartner Inc. said it expects semiconductor industry sales to grow 12.3 percent this year, reaching $386 billion. Gartner said favorable market conditions that gained momentum in the second half of 2016 have raised the outlook for the chip market in both 2017 and 2018.

During the two-year period covered by the SEMI report, South Korea, Taiwan and China will lead record spending for fab construction and fab equipment, and spending in Europe will also increase significantly. SEMI forecast that in 2017, chipmakers will invest over $49 billion in equipment, a record for the semiconductor industry.

Spending on new fab construction is projected to reach over $8 billion, the second largest year on record.

Chipmakers will […]

June 9th, 2017|General News Feed|

Semiconductor Engineering .:. Chip Test Shifts Left

From semiengineering.com:

“Shift left” is a term traditionally applied to software testing, meaning to take action earlier in the V-shaped time line of a project. It has recently been touted in electronic design automation and IC design, verification, and test.

“Test early and test often” is the classic maxim of software testing. What if that concept could also be implemented in semiconductor testing, to reduce the number of chip failures at various stages of testing, and thereby reduce cost and time for weeding out defective components?

One approach to this concept may be portable test and stimulus. The Accellera Systems Initiative formed a Portable Stimulus Working Group two years ago with the goal of creating an industry standard for portable test and stimulus. “When completed and adopted, this standard will enable a single specification that will be portable from IP to full system and across multiple target implementations,” the group said in its 2015 announcement statement.

At DVCon U.S. in February, the organization presented the “Creating Portable Stimulus Models with the Upcoming Accellera Standard” tutorial. While the standard is being crafted and reviewed, there are other paths to achieving “shift left for chip test,” according to industry executives.

“In a classic V diagram, you […]

June 9th, 2017|General News Feed|

Breakthrough in CMOS-compatible ferroelectric memory

From phys.org:

“Imec, the world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technology, announced today at the 2017 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits the world’s first demonstration of a vertically stacked ferroelectric Al doped HfO2 device for NAND applications. Using a new material and a novel architecture, imec has created a non-volatile memory concept with attractive characteristics for power consumption, switching speed, scalability and retention. The achievement shows that ferro-electric memory is a highly promising technology at various points in the memory hierarchy, and as a new technology for storage class memory. Imec will further develop the concept in collaboration with the world’s leading producers of memory ICs.

Ferro-electric materials consist of crystals that exhibit spontaneous polarization; they can be in one of two states, which can be reversed with a suitable electric field. This non-volatile characteristic resembles ferromagnetism, after which they have been named. Discovered more than five decades ago, ferro-electric memory has always been considered ideal, due to its very low power needs, non-volatile character and high switching speed. However, issues with the complex materials, the breakdown of the interfacial layer and bad retention characteristics have presented significant challenges. The recent discovery of a ferro-electric phase in […]

June 9th, 2017|General News Feed|

ON Semiconductor Improves Imaging Performance for High Resolution Industrial Applications

From Businesswire.com:”ON Semiconductor (Nasdaq: ON), driving energy efficient innovations, is improving performance for industrial imaging applications that require both high resolution image capture and maximum image uniformity.

The new 29 megapixel KAI-29052 image sensor provides up to twice the imaging sensitivity of the existing KAI-29050 in the wavelength range of 500 nanometer (nm) to 1050 nm. This improved performance is particularly beneficial to applications operating in near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths, such as 850 nm. This enhanced pixel design retains isolation of charge from one photodiode to another, enabling this increase in sensitivity without any reduction to image sharpness (Modulation Transfer Function, or MTF). In addition, an improved amplifier design reduces read noise by 15%, increasing the linear dynamic range available from the device to 66 decibel (dB). With these enhancements, the KAI-29052 serves as a new performance benchmark for high resolution image capture.

“The evolving needs of industrial imaging applications such as high end security, machine vision, and aerial surveillance and mapping require continued advancements in the portfolio of image sensors serving this market,” said Herb Erhardt, Vice President and GM, Industrial Solutions Division, Image Sensor Group at ON Semiconductor. “The enhanced performance available from the KAI-29052 is a further demonstration of […]

June 6th, 2017|General News Feed|

Korea replaces Taiwan as largest semiconductor equipment market

From Digitimes.com:”Worldwide semiconductor manufacturing equipment billings reached a record US$13.1 billion in the first quarter of 2017, according to SEMI. The billings figure was 14% higher than the prior quarter, and 58% above the level a year ago.
Korea replaced Taiwan as the largest semiconductor equipment market in the first quarter, SEMI said. Equipment billings in Korea came to US$3.53 billion in the first quarter of 2017, rising 48% on quarter and 110% from a year earlier, while equipment billings in Taiwan fell 16% sequentially but increased 84% on year to US$3.48 billion.
China saw the largest sequential growth among all regions in the first quarter of 2017 with equipment billings surging 74% on quarter to US$2.01 billion, SEMI said. China was the third largest semiconductor equipment market during the quarter.
Equipment billings in North America and Japan grew 3% and 19%, respectively, on quarter to US$1.27 billion and US$1.25 billion in the first quarter, while equipment billings in Europe slipped 1% sequentially to US$920 million, according to SEMI.
SEMI added the data is gathered jointly with the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan (SEAJ) from over 95 global equipment companies that provide data on a monthly basis.Source: Korea replaces Taiwan as largest semiconductor […]

June 6th, 2017|General News Feed|

What’s Next In Scaling And Stacking

From Semiengineering.com:”An Steegen, executive vice president of semiconductor technology and systems at Belgian R&D Imec, sat down with Semiconductor Engineering to discuss IC scaling, chip stacking, packaging and other topics. Imec is an R&D organization in Belgium. What follows are excerpts of that conversation…

SE: Chipmakers are shipping 16nm/14nm processes with 10nm and 7nm technologies either ramping or just around the corner. These processes are based on finFET transistors, where the control of the current is accomplished by implementing a gate on each of the three sides of a fin. How long will the finFET last?

Steegen: From Imec’s perspective and the analysis that we’ve done, the finFET is a strong device. We see this one lasting. Let’s use gate pitch, because that is actually where you see a little bit of a cliff between a fin verses a nanowire. This is around 40nm. So, you could say if 5nm still parks itself in a 40nm gate pitch range, it’s there we believe that a finFET is still a very strong device.
SE: Regardless of the node numbers, what’s after the finFET? Many are talking about nanowire FETs. (A nanowire FET, sometimes referred to as a gate-all-around FET, is a finFET turned […]

June 5th, 2017|General News Feed|

Chipmakers gear up for voice-activated gadgets boom

From Nikkei Asian Review:
“TAIPEI — Major chipmakers are getting ready to ride the boom in artificial intelligence assistants and devices as the popularity of voice-activated machines surges and speculation mount that Apple will soon release a Siri speaker to compete with Google and Amazon.
“The growth is going to be quite rapid … there are many customers today designing voice control systems,” said Martyn Humphries, vice president of Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors, at the annual Computex expo in Taipei on June 2.
NXP is the largest chipmaker globally in areas such as smart cards and automobiles. MediaTek wants to ride the AI home device boom.”By the end of next year, you will probably see tens of millions of appliances and other types of systems with voice-controlled functions,” said Humphries…”Read more: Chipmakers gear up for voice-activated gadgets boom- Nikkei Asian Review

June 5th, 2017|General News Feed|

A self-sufficient home with solar panels installed only on its facade

From Phys.org:
“EPFL, in association with the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, the Geneva School of Art and Design and the University of Fribourg, is taking part in the 2017 international Solar Decathlon competition. Students have designed a house called NeighborHub that gets all its energy from solar panels installed only on the building’s facade. NeighborHub will open its doors to the public next Saturday.
Can a home run entirely on solar facades? Apparently so, according to NeighborHub, a house designed and built for the 2017 Solar Decathlon by Swiss students from EPFL, the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (HEIA-FR), the Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD Genève) and the University of Fribourg (UNIFR). With NeighborHub, the students wanted to show that it makes both practical and economic sense to install solar panels on a home’s facade – thereby maximizing the surface area put to use – even though sunlight can sometimes struggle to penetrate urban areas. “Unlike rooftops, facades are more likely to be in the shade since other buildings can block the sunlight,” says Philippe Couty, the engineer coordinating the project for HEIA-FR. “That could sharply reduce the amount of power that solar panels […]

June 5th, 2017|General News Feed|

Chipmakers at Taiwan’s biggest tech fair look beyond crowded smartphone market | Reuters

From Reuters.com:
“Chipmakers switched focus at Taiwan’s top tech fair this week with bets on new areas such as driverless cars, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, shifting away from smartphones where intense competition has pushed down components prices.
The Computex Taipei event, now in its 36th year, has historically been a central venue for electronic parts manufacturers to show off their processors and other components, products that play a large part in Taiwan’s export-driven economy.
As prices of processors fell, companies pushed into headline-grabbing launches like last year’s Zenbo, a child-friendly home robot unveiled by Asustek Computer Inc, that could sing, snap pictures and help in the kitchen…”
Read more: Chipmakers at Taiwan’s biggest tech fair look beyond crowded smartphone market | Reuters reposted by Silicon Valley Microelectronics

June 2nd, 2017|General News Feed|

Magnetoelectric memory cell uses less power

From NewElectronics.co.uk:
“A magnetoelectric random access memory (MELRAM) cell based on the stress-mediated magnetoelectric effect has been developed by a team of researchers from France and Russia. They claim the memory cell promises low bit-reading and low bit-writing energies.
According to the team, the research could aid production of devices such as instant-on laptops, close-to-zero-consumption flash drives, and data storage centres that require much less air conditioning.
Most efforts have focused on reducing the energy of the write operations in magnetic memories, since these operations typically use more energy than read operations.
“We focused on read operations in this paper because the potential for the writing energy to be very low in magnetoelectric systems means that the energy output will now be higher for read operations,” said Nicolas Tiercelin, a research scientist from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.
In the researchers’ latest paper, they showed a combination of magnetoelastic and piezoelectric materials in a magnetoelectric memory cell could allow for read operations with extra-low energy consumption.
The core of the researchers’ MELRAM memory cell is based on combining the properties of two types of materials by coupling them mechanically. Magnetic alloys – one based on a combination of terbium-cobalt and the other based […]

June 2nd, 2017|General News Feed|

Heraeus SOL9641A series frontside silver paste was specifically designed for black silicon wafers | PV Tech

From PV-Tech.org:
“Heraeus Photovoltaics has launched a specifically designed frontside silver paste to provide improved contact ability  diamond wire cut wafer with ‘Black Silicon’ texture
Problem
As the PV industry continuously improves cost-to-performance ratio for the P-type multicrystaline cells, the diamond wire cut wafer with ‘Black Silicon’ texture is the new avenue to achieve improvements. However, the nano-structured Black-Silicon surface prepared by special texturing process (such as RIE and MCCE) boots efficiency gain, but also gives challenges to metallization paste contact ability.
Solution
Heraeus SOL9641A series frontside silver paste was specially re-designed for Black-Silicon texturing. It features unique glass chemistry for contacting unique silicon surface and fine-tuned organic media matching nano-structured surface morphology. This has resulted in well-balanced metallization contact and Voc. After low temperature firing the microstructure of the fired finger has an increased densified structure including the Ag-Silicon interface, enhancing adhesion, grid resistivity and solder ability.
Source: Heraeus SOL9641A series frontside silver paste was specifically designed for black silicon wafers | PV Tech reposted by Silicon Valley Microelectronics.

June 1st, 2017|General News Feed|

Silicor Celebrates First PERC Mono Cell Made With Its Silicon – Solar Industry

“Silicor Materials Inc., a California-based manufacturer of solar silicon and aluminum by-products, says that in its first ever attempt, the company has produced p-type mono PERC (passivated emitter rear cell) cells at approximately 20% efficiency, using 100% of its standard silicon feedstock…”

Read more: Silicor Celebrates First PERC Mono Cell Made With Its Silicon – Solar Industry resposted by Silicon Valley Microelectronics

June 1st, 2017|General News Feed|

The world’s thinnest hologram could soon be integrated into smartphones – ScienceAlert

From Sciencealert.com:
“We are closer than ever to producing holograms that’ll make your inner Star Wars nerd hyperventilate into a brown paper bag.

In the latest iteration of holographic technology, scientists have developed the world’s thinnest holographic material. At 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, it’s tiny enough to be incorporated into everyday devices, such as smartphones, computer screens, and TVs.

Scientists have been promising us holograms for years, and we’re now tantalisingly close to having them as part of our everyday lives. These ones you can actually touch and interact with, and these basic holograms can be created on your phone using really simple materials.

But until now, scientists have struggled to sufficiently shrink holographic technology to a point that makes it compatible with our personal devices.

“Conventional computer-generated holograms are too big for electronic devices, but our ultra-thin hologram overcomes those size barriers,” says lead researcher, Min Gu, from RMIT in Australia.

In a normal holographic device, light must be manipulated in a way that creates the illusion of a 3D object. Until now, the materials used to make holograms had to be as thick as the wavelengths of light they are trying to manipulate.

Gu and his team have managed to overcome the traditional limitations of thickness […]

May 31st, 2017|General News Feed|