Light At the End of the Silicon

March 8, 2001 | Source: Reuters

British scientists have discovered a way to make microchips smaller and faster by creating light-emitting regions in the silicon. “The power of chips doubles every few years but that will stop happening soon, because as you make them smaller the complexity of the contacts and wire that connects them doesn’t scale — it stays the same,” said Kevin Homewood, a professor of optoelectronics at the University of Surrey. The achievement, reported in the science journal Nature, uses loop-shaped flaws in silicon called dislocations to generate light within the silicon efficiently at room temperature.