MIT team finds a way to combine two chips in to one

September 20th, 2009 at 5:12 PM  5 Comments

MITlogoSilicon has been the standard material for semiconductor construction for decades, but that could soon change. While producing ever faster technologies, the physical dimensions of chips have decreased over the years, and engineers have known that they would eventually reach physical limitations in trying to make ever smaller and faster chips based on silicon. “We won’t be able to continue improving silicon by scaling it down for long,” says Tomas Palacios, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. “It’s very difficult to make them a lot smaller.”

Of course silicon isn’t the end-all-be-all of transistor material when it comes to speed. “There are several semiconductor materials that offer better performance than silicon,” Palacios says. “The problem is, even though they allow for very fast transistors, they cannot compete with silicon in terms of integration and scalability.” Companies have spent decades and billions of dollars developing technologies based on silicon, and to make a total jump to another material would be neither practical nor profitable.