Jan 272011
 
SEM image of epitaxial nanowire heterostructur...
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European researchers have developed state-of-the-art nanowire ‘growing’ technology, opening the way for faster, smaller microchips and creating a promising new avenue of research and industrial development in Europe.

Nanowires are a promising new technology that could meet rapidly rising performance requirements for integrated circuit design over the next ten years. They are tiny wires just tens of nanometres in diameter and micrometers in length.

They could mean smaller, faster and lower power electronics, and lead to entirely novel architectures such as 3D microchips — a vertical stack of circuitry that can massively increase the size of circuits for the same footprint.

Nanowires are so narrow they are often called ‘one-dimensional’ structures because the width of the wire constrains the sideways movement of electrons as they pass through the wire. Also, the cylindrical geometry allows the most efficient electrostatic gating technology.

Unsurprisingly at this scale, nanowires demonstrate many characteristics that offer the potential for novel circuits and architectures, and physicists are very excited. The Japanese pioneered the field with the USA taking up the work, and with a few European teams entering soon after.

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