a, Au (gold) agglomerate formation; b, Au agglomerate size sorting using a differential mobility analyzer; c, Au agglomerate compaction into spherical particles in a furnace; d, nanowire growth; e, nanowire deposition (credit: Lars Samuelson et al./Lund University)

This radical discovery could turn semiconductor manufacture inside out

How to “grow” self-assembling semiconductors, atomic layer by atomic layer
November 30, 2012

A completely new method of manufacturing the smallest structures in electronics could make their manufacture thousands of times quicker, allowing for cheaper semiconductors.

Instead of starting from a silicon wafer or other substrate, the idea is to grow gallium arsenide semiconductor structures from freely suspended nanoparticles of gold in a flowing gas. Semiconductor nanowires are key building blocks for the next generation of light-emitting diodes, solar cells, and batteries, according to Lund University researchers.

Behind the discovery is Lars Samuelson, Professor of Semiconductor Physics at Lund University, Sweden, and head of the University’s Nanometer Structure Consortium. He believes the technology will be ready for commercialization in two to four years. A prototype for solar cells is expected to be completed in two years.

“When I first suggested the idea of getting rid of the substrate, people around me said ‘you’re out of your mind, Lars; that would never work.’ When we tested the principle in one of our converted ovens at 400°C, the results were better than we could have dreamed of,” he says.

Read more: This radical discovery could turn semiconductor manufacture inside out | KurzweilAI.

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