Scientists breakthrough for future chip wiring

Breakthrough could impact future computer wiring technologies.

Engineers at a Scottish university have gained an important insight into the behavior of tiny wires, which could have vital implications for the way in which computers in the future are wired together.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh's School of Engineering and Electronics carried out tests to show how tiny wires -- 1,000 times thinner than a human hair -- behave when manipulated. Wires on a nanoscale -- measured in millionths of a millimeter -- behave quite differently from bigger wires.

Working with colleagues from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (in Germany) and the University of Rome, the researchers discovered that below certain thicknesses, the wire cannot be bent into a ring but instead looks more like a misshapen paper clip.

The researchers' findings are published in the journal Science, and they have developed a computational tool to predict (and control) the behavior of these tiny wires when they are bent.

While this may sound a relatively trivial discovery, it is actually pretty important to the development of computers in the future. Indeed, the practical relevance of the discovery is when the linear scale of microelectronics devices goes down by another factor of 10 sometime in the future.

The problem is not designing a small wire but fabricating it and attaching it without breaking it or making it short-circuit. Getting this right could lead to supercomputers that fit into a device the size of a mobile phone.

The computational tool being developed by the researchers will allow chip makers to predict and control the wiring processes, even as the size of chips and wires falls below one micron -- one thousandth of a millimeter. This is an important development for Moore's Law, with its ongoing challenge to keep developing much smaller (and hence faster) microchips and use thinner wires.

"This will help to make small devices much more powerful in the future," said Michael Zaiser of the University of Edinburgh team. "Holding a supercomputer in the palm of your hand will one day be possible -- and we are going to make sure all the wires are in the right place."

"But our research is not about making tiny supercomputers," Zaiser stressed to Techworld. "Rather it is about the wiring that could be used in supercomputers."

"Maybe in 10 years from now, there will be an interesting problem as the conventional way of packaging semiconductors will run into novel material problems," he added. "Very thin wires behave very differently from a thick wire, and the behavior changes quite dramatically."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Jowitt

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?