Researchers find the future of semiconductors in boron

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Houston, and other facilities recently published interesting paper Which speculates about the future of silicon – or rather, the possibility of its non-existence.

According to the report, using cubic boron arsenide (c-BAs) instead of silicon in the manufacture of semiconductors could bring a range of benefits, including improved heat, conductivity, and an increase in performance worthy of the future of computing. Will silicon become obsolete?

Drawing depicting cubic boron arsenic.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

As devices get more powerful with each passing year, keeping heat in place becomes an increasing problem for manufacturers around the world. With some next-gen releases, like rumored Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 رسومات Graphics Cardwhich is said to require a power supply of 1,200 watts, the heat from these types of devices is very intense – and it will only get worse with each generation of products.

As a result of the increasing potential being stifled by current technology, scientists are trying to think of ways to improve computing as a whole, and one of the main ways to do this is by replacing silicon as the main material used in semiconductor manufacturing. Silicon is now widely used and can be found in all kinds of chips, but it is not an optimal solution; On the contrary, it has many flaws.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology explain That electrons navigate through the silicon structure easily, but do not approach the efficiency of “holes” – a term referring to the isotopes of positively charged electrons. Silicon does a good job only on negatively charged electrons. It’s also a really poor solution when it comes to thermal conductivity, to the point that higher temperatures in Best CPUs It is an acceptable standard and something that has to be dealt with by various cooling solutions.

Now, the research team involved in this project has set out to find a better option than silicon, and they’ve found that cubic boron arsenide addresses both of the silicon’s two problems. It’s also good for both electrons and “holes,” opening the door to a whole new level of computing.

“This is important because of course in semiconductors we have both positive and negative charge. If you make a device, you want to have a material in which electrons and holes travel with less resistance,” said Gang Chen, a leading professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. It also highlights that cubic boron arsenic offers up to 10 times better thermal conductivity than its silicon counterparts.It even outperforms copper by a significant margin as well.

New semiconductor design from IBM and Samsung.

If cubic boron arsenic addresses both of silicon’s biggest problems, it seems like an ideal semiconductor material. In the paper, the scientists refer to it as a “game-changer.” It makes sense that silicon will be left behind as the future of computing moves to better materials. But it’s not that simple.

So far, cubic boron arsenic has only been manufactured in small batches for the purpose of testing. Silicon is abundant and easy to obtain, but boron arsenic is not so much. The researchers explain that it remains uncertain whether cubic boron arsenide could ever be used in a capacity large enough to replace silicon. Perhaps it can be used in small batches for semiconductors that already require additional power. Looks like we’ll have to stick with the tried and true silicone – at least until a better solution presents itself.

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