IBM Research

IBM's flexible circuit is 10,000 times thinner than paper

IBM Research

The last time we checked, the thinnest microchip ever produced was a set of 19-nanometer NAND flash memory chips made by Toshiba and SanDisk. Now an IBM research team at the Thomas J Watson Research Center has made a flexible nanocircuit that’s 10,000 times thinner than a piece of paper.

The nanoscale chipset can be sized, shaped, folded and bent into any oddly shaped device—from those flexible screens we saw at CES to a futuristic Pip-Boy. According to the researchers, the nanocircuit does not sacrifice power for flexibility as it can be used in smartphones to deliver the same processing power as a “something in your laptop.”

Researchers Stephen Bedell and Davood Shahrjerdi created their nanocircuit with a "control spalling" technique, which involves peeling the circuitry off of a silicon wafer and then applying it onto plastic. The technique also allows the material to be applied to other substrates, so we could see it implemented into lighting surfaces, clothing, or embedded medical devices.

According to the two researchers, the super-thin, flexible chip is just as powerful as a typical silicon-based chip since it can fit more than 10 billion transistors on top of a plastic substrate. At the same time, these chips are also super power efficient needing only 0.6 volts of electricity.

[IBM Research via Extreme Tech]

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