Discovery of a new material that can increase the performance of computer chips

News hardware Discovery of a new material that can increase the performance of computer chips

A team of researchers from the famous MIT, in collaboration with the University of Houston, has recently found an alternative to silicon to make tomorrow’s semiconductor, its name: cubic borarsenide.

After lithium, researchers are now looking for a successor to silicon

If there’s one thing to remember about the Covid crisis in the electronics and technology market, it’s that it’s really, really, not good to just rely on a single type of resource and a single provider.

For several weeks, we have seen studies and research on tomorrow’s batteries flourish, to be less dependent on rare materials in general and lithium in particular.

Among all the more or less advanced approaches, we have seen that researchers especially work around
sulphur
or even
graphite
elements that are already known to improve current batteries, while others have taken much more tortuous paths by focusing on
algae
or even
true

Finally, global warming and increasingly regular heat waves confirm those who believe it the energy of the future is in the solar panels
and that you just have to keep it everywhere to be autonomous.

A piece of polished wafer and block of pure silicon

But there is another field that suffers from a quasi-monopoly that many researchers want to break, that of semiconductors. In this domain is called the king of the world silicon.

Without it, or rather without semiconductors, how to say… No PC, no consoles, no smartphones, no television, etc., etc., no wholesale digital objects. Back to the Amish model, as the other would say…

Suddenly, between the shortage associated with Covid and the not necessarily optimal properties of silicon, the most widespread semiconductor on the market, researchers are struggling to find a successor to it, and that is how cubic boron arsenide stood out.

Semiconductor plate

Discovery of a new material that can increase the performance of computer chips

Cubic boron arsenide, the semiconductor of tomorrow that everyone has been waiting for

The study that interests us today was published a few days ago in the scientific magazine Science and was carried out jointly by researchers from the famous MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), in collaboration with the University of Houston.

For the record, in super shortcut, a semiconductor is a chemical compound that is halfway between an insulator and a superconductor. They are used everywhere in electronics past and present and are quite suitable for our everyday devices.

Discovery of a new material that can increase the performance of computer chips

Nevertheless, the use of silicon, if facilitated by its great availability (it is the most abundant element in the earth’s crust after oxygen), poses some problems that we all know: overheating.

If your smartphone or computer heats up too much, it is partly because it does not conduct heat very well and that is why we need more and more sophisticated, expensive and energy-intensive cooling systems.

For two years now, researchers have been interested in another semiconductor material full of promise: cubic boron arsenide.

cubic boron arsenide

Discovery of a new material that can increase the performance of computer chips

After theorizing that it was better in every way than silicon, they were finally able to experiment with it, and the results are clear. If it turns out just a tiny bit better than silicon when it comes to electron transfer, it would simply be 10 times more efficient in terms of heat dissipation.

The big project of these next ones will be to find a way to produce enough of this new material to test it and integrate it on a large scale into a whole lot of electronic devices, from the simple watch connected to the electric car that passes past laptops or smartphones. A great hope for the future.

Source:
Science

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