Groundbreaking Chip Research can Help Produce Faster and Cheaper Semiconductors

Published Date : Mar 26, 2015

A breakthrough research has uncovered that there is a technique to produce more efficient and cost effective chips.

The innovative technology was developed at the Stanford University, and it utilizes gallium arsenide material instead of the regularly used silicon. This material can allow handling of data at faster speed or at high-frequency signals. This material allows electrons to pass through it up to around six times faster than usual material.

Traditionally, silicon is the choice semiconductor material. However, despite the technical advantages provided by gallium arsenide, it is around a thousand times cheaper to produce as compared to silicon. Hence, gallium arsenide based semiconductor devices are generally used in niche application where this material’s special properties justify the higher cost such as mobile phone which tend to employ high frequency radio signals that arrive much faster as compared to silicon’s capability.

Silicon and gallium arsenide are produced using raw crystal which is used in electronic devices in as similar manner. Each material is fashioned into a wafer. This can cost around US$5000 to produce an 8in gallium arsenide-based wafer as compared to the US$5 price wafer made using silicon.

These wafers are flat in shape and have circular platters of pure material which is used to produce solar cells, computer chips, and other electronic devices. According to Stanford University, this new manufacturing process will reduce the 1000 to one cost difference by recycling the expensive US$5000 wafer. 

According to the University, currently the electronic circuits in a device based on gallium arsenide are grown on top of this wafer. The manufacturers in the industry create the circuitry layer using flowing gaseous gallium arsenide along with other materials across the surface of the wafer.