Silicon Chips with Copper Plasmonic Components

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There are scientific breakthroughs every day, almost all of which simply pass us by because our world is complex and nobody can absorb the movement of science and its implications on what we do every day. One of my ventures, which involves the use of superfine copper powder in the semi-conductor industry, just became a lot more interesting. 
Yes, I do involve myself in some esoteric things from time to time and while the introduction of copper photonics in integrated circuits may not interest you, you will be using these in the near future. Is it a “better mousetrap”? I hope so.

Journal Reference:Dmitry Yu. Fedyanin, Dmitry I. Yakubovsky, Roman V. Kirtaev, Valentyn S. Volkov. Ultralow-Loss CMOS Copper Plasmonic Waveguides. Nano Letters, 2016; 16 (1): 362 DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b03942

And before you flash NERD ALERT and move on to a discussion of Hillary’s cankles or something equally as interesting, consider that the next big thing in integrated circuits involves using light/photons to transmit information within the chip instead (nanophotonics) of electrons. These chips are used in increasingly small devices that are part of almost everything we touch.
The discovery made by researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) will be used to replace existing components in data processing devices with more modern components by using photons instead of electrons. 
Discussion of Plasmonics
While the main component in modern electronics, the transistor, can be scaled down in size to a few nanometres, the diffraction of light limits the minimum dimensions of photonic components to the size of about the light wavelength (~1 micrometre). Despite the fundamental nature of this so-called diffraction limit, one can overcome it by using metal-dielectric structures to create truly nanoscale photonic components. Most metals show a negative permittivity at optical frequencies, and light cannot propagate through them, penetrating to a depth of only 25 nanometres. Light may be converted into surface plasmon polaritons, surface waves propagating along the surface of a metal. This makes it possible to switch from conventional 3D photonics to 2D surface plasmon photonics, which is known as plasmonics. This gives a possibility to control light at the scale of the order of 100 nanometres, i.e. far beyond the diffraction limit.
It was previously believed that only two metals — gold and silver — could be used to build efficient nanophotonic metal-dielectric nanostructures and it was also thought that all other metals could not be an alternative to these two materials, since they exhibit strong absorption. However, in practice, creating components using gold and silver is not possible because both metals, as they are noble, do not enter into chemical reactions and therefore it is extremely difficult, expensive and in many cases simply impossible to use them to create nanostructures — the basis of modern photonics.
Unlike gold, copper can be easily structured using wet or dry etching. This gives a possibility to make nanoscale components that are easily integrated into silicon photonic or electronic integrated circuits. They succeeded in fabricating copper chips with optical properties that are not inferior to gold-based chips in a fabrication process compatible with the CMOS technology, which is the basis for all modern integrated circuits, including microprocessors.
These studies provide a foundation for the practical use of copper nanophotonic and plasmonic components, which in the very near future will be used to create LEDs, nanolasers, highly sensitive sensors and transducers for mobile devices, and high performance optoelectronic processors with several tens of thousand cores for graphics cards, personal computers, and supercomputers.

16 thoughts on “Silicon Chips with Copper Plasmonic Components

  1. Let there be light and by the sound of things the tech curve isn't slowing down. Speaking of which, have you been following "Li-Fi"? Interesting.

    But where was I; send Hillary to Gaol!! Please. And throw in Piers Morgan, too.

  2. You lost me after the picture and first paragraph. But I think you said that some very small things are going to be replace with some even smaller and faster things, but they will not be using gold or sliver to do it. Probably some copper, but they will need some really small hammers and to beat it into shape for what ever electronic part we will be using. So, I guess that no one, and I mean no one, will ever accuse me of being a nerd. Ya think?

  3. I like it when things become a lot more interesting.
    Copper was one of the first metals used by man and still makes a remarkable penny. You can’t get much for a penny these days, mind.
    Glad to hear that your esoteric project still has this component blazing from the Bronze age to the future.

  4. Electrons are too big to move through the microchips that power TV's, computers, phones, cars, and the electronics that make things happen in the modern world. Light photons are smaller. When you use light, you generate less heat within a microchip as well. Compare the heat from an old phone and a modern one.

    There is more power in the average i-phone than in the computers that took Apollo to the Moon (by a long shot). Those are about to get a lot more powerful than they are now.

  5. Everything from computer modulated hearing aids to "bionic eyes" that can replace eyes that suffer from macular degeneration, to a smarter wristwatch. Tiny computers that are cool (temperature) and are very powerful.

  6. I'm finishing a new novel: EXILES FROM EDEN. I haven't mentioned it on this blog before, but I'm putting effort into that at the moment. When I've finished that, I'll get the Black Scorpions back up on Kindle. There are things that I can do to make it more politically correct, I guess.

  7. In order for copper for these new applications to be useful, it needs to be processed in a different way than people normally associate with copper that you'd see in a penny, or as a decorative item. It's all still elemental Cu, but as you know, getting that copper to a state useful to these applications is something that I'm actively engaged in.

  8. We need to send Morgan back to the UK where he can whip up anger in favor of anchoring Britain to the failing EU. He's always on the losing side, so it would be a perfect marriage.

  9. It is likely to change the world around us and how we view that world in subtle ways as time goes forward.

  10. LL and WSF, I just started wearing hearing aids, but they are no longer hearing aids. They are hearing computers. I can adjust the volume, choose Omani directional on line of sight hearing – manually or by my phone. It listens and learns what is noise and what is artificial sound (radio and TV) and tunes the noise out. They are amazing.

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