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Molybdenite touted as 'material to revolutionize electronics'

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By Suzanne Deffree, Managing Editor, news -- EDN, February 2, 2011

Molybdenite is being described as being better than silicon and graphene for electronics with such advantages as 100,000-times less energy consumption by transistors in standby state than traditional silicon transistors.

A material called molybdenite is being touted by researchers as having distinct advantages over traditional silicon or graphene for use in electronics.

Smaller and more energy-efficient electronic chips could be made using molybdenite, or MoS2, according to researchers at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL).

Molybdenite touted as ‘material to revolutionize electronics’ image The mineral is abundant in nature and can be found through drilling in Mexico, as well as the United States and other countries. Molybdenite is often used as an element in steel alloys or as an additive in lubricants, but it had not yet been extensively studied for use in electronics.

“It’s a two-dimensional material, very thin, and easy to use in nanotechnology. It has real potential in the fabrication of very small transistors,  LEDs (light-emitting diodes), and solar cells,” EPFL Professor Andras Kis said in a statement.

According to EPFL, one of molybdenite’s advantages is that it is less voluminous than silicon, a three-dimensional material. “In a 0.65-nanometer-thick sheet of MoS2, the electrons can move around as easily as in a 2-nanometer-thick sheet of silicon,” Kis said. “But it’s not currently possible to fabricate a sheet of silicon as thin as a monolayer sheet of MoS2.”

Another claimed advantage of molybdenite is that it can be used to make transistors that consume 100,000-times less energy in standby state than traditional silicon transistors. The researchers noted that a semiconductor with a “gap” must be used to turn a transistor on and off. Molybdenite’s 1.8 electron-volt gap is ideal for this purpose, they said.

The existence of this gap in molybdenite also gives it an advantage over graphene, the researchers said. They pointed out that graphene does not have a gap and that it is very difficult to artificially reproduce one in the material.
EPFL’s Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures discussed the research in a January 30, article appearing online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.




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Feb 02, 2011

Semiconductor Industry Association reports nearly 32% increase in annual global chip sales

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), representing United States leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and design, and the heartbeat of American innovation, today announced that worldwide semiconductor sales for 2010 reached a record $298.3 billion, a year-on-year increase of 31.8 percent from the $226.3 billion recorded in 2009.  Worldwide semiconductor sales in December amounted to $25.2 billion, a modest decline of 3.0 percent from the month prior in line with historical seasonality, and 12.2 percent higher than December 2009. Fourth quarter sales of $75.5 billion represent a 4.0 percent decline from the immediate prior quarter, and a 12.2 percent increase over the same period in 2009.

"Semiconductor sales are a bright spot in our current economic picture, delivering a record high in the billions. The year-over-year growth is due in part to the increased use of semiconductor technology in a wider range of electronic devices that we have come to enjoy in modern life," said Brian Toohey, president, Semiconductor Industry Association. "Our member companies continue to ramp up their operations to meet the growing demand for semiconductor innovation."

In 2010, all major semiconductor product categories showed double-digit growth year-over-year. As semiconductors have been America's top export over the last five years, it is important to note that the Asia Pacific region represents 54 percent of the total worldwide semiconductor market. The Americas semiconductor market only accounts for 18 percent of the world market.

"Semiconductor design and manufacturing facilities are strategic to our nation's economic growth. However, our industry is faced with fierce global competition and our policymakers and regulators must ensure that we have balanced tax, regulatory and trade policies to allow our industry to continue to flourish in the U.S. and remain America's largest export industry," Toohey concluded.

For the current year, the Semiconductor Industry Association forecasts moderate single digit growth for the industry sector as a whole. This growth projection is encouraging given the continued impact of the economic downturn.



John Palmour of Cree: The future of silicon carbide power switches

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Source:  Margery Conner on January 24, 2011

Last week Cree, perhaps best known (well, by me, anyway) as a maker of high-brightness diodes, introduced a completely new product line of silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFETs. Cree claims the devices have faster switching speeds, lower switching losses, les temperature sensitivity, and no reverse recovery losses. They compete with 900 V Si-based MOSFETs and 1200 V IGBTs. (For more details on the product launch , read, SiC power MOSFET pushes past Si-based MOSFETs/IGBTs with lower losses, lower capacitance, easier drive.)

Silicon wafers have to date formed the basis for virtually all digital computing wizardry and much of the power devices as well. How does SiC play in the power devices arena, and how might it stack up against another recent contender to the silicon throne, gallium nitride (GaN)  and GaN-on-silicon?  John Palmour, co-founder of Cree and CTO for power and RF, answered a few questions as he walked me through the new product slide deck for SiC.

Q: Your new silicon carbide MOSFET switches command a stiff price premium. Do you see them as products for a niche market?

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 January 2011 12:49

USPTO Patent Grants

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The USPTO issued more utility patents in calendar year 2010 than in any year in history. The 2010 total – just shy of 220,000 issued patents – is a 31% increase over 2009. The previous record was set in 2006 with about 173,000 issued utility patents.  The dramatic rise in issuance rate is not tied directly to an increase in filings (although there has been a small increase in new application filings).  Rather, the increase appears to be the result of administrative changes instituted by USPTO Director David Kappos who took office mid-year 2009 after being nominated by President Barack Obama.


The high disposal rate appears likely to continue and perhaps increase in velocity. During the last three weeks (Dec 25, 2010 – Jan 14, 2011), the USPTO has issued more patents than in any three-week period on record.

The increased number of issuances raises some concern that the PTO has lowered its standard for patentability.  It is true, that a higher percentage of applications are resulting in issued patents. However, the PTO is also rejecting more applications than ever before. It is probably time for a quality study comparing patents issued late-2008 to those issued in late-2010.


Embedded Component Course Offered

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Blurring the Line between Packaging & Assembly: Embedded Components


SMTAI 2009, San Diego, California, October 2009


Embedding active and passive components in the interconnect substrate offers improved performance by cutting interconnect parasitics, reliability gains by eliminating wire-bonds and solder-bumps, and reduced cost and size by parts list reduction. Like every new development, these benefits come at a price: disrupted logistics, yield management concerns, and limited rework and repair options.

This course covers the application and implementation of commercial and developmental technologies to embed active as well as passive components. Topics include advanced material options, die contact metallurgy and processes, embedded chip packaging, and options for embedded passives. Solutions include ceramic-based (thick film, LTCC, and HTCC) and organic-based (PWB, flex, and thin film) systems Examples of specific embedded component structures, including Verdant’s Occam and Freescale’s RCP technologies, demonstrate both the power and limitations of these approaches.

Further considerations for embedded components include yield management strategies, WEEE and ROHS concerns, system reliability, and supply chain restructuring. The course concludes by reviewing the drivers behind embedded active and passive components and analysis of multiple examples of today’s real life embedded component applications.


  • Embedded Component Drivers & Trends
  • Embedding Active Components
    • Bare Die
    • Packaged Die
  • Embedding Passive Components
    • Discrete Passives
    • Integral Passives
  • Commercial & Developmental Applications
  • Technical & Business Implications for SMT Assemblers
    • Process Changes & Revised Yield Management Strategies
    • Supply Chain Shift & Value Capture Opportunities
  • Cost Analysis for Embedded Components
  • Embedded Packaging Intellectual Property Landscape


Who Should Attend?

This course covers basic and advanced topics for product and design engineers, manufacturing process and assembly/packaging engineers, engineering managers, senior design technicians, consultants and academic specialists as well as marketing and sales personnel requiring an understanding of the capabilities, implications and options of embedded active and passive component technologies.

Instructor Bio:

Herbert J. Neuhaus, Ph.D. serves as Director of Operations at TechLead Corporation supporting clients around the world in the areas of intellectual property management and valuation, technical cost modeling as well as developing advanced strategic planning tools. Active since 1980 in the development and characterization of electronic materials and associated manufacturing processes for a wide variety of applications including flip-chip for RFID and Smart Cards, LED assembly, chip interconnect and passivation, multichip modules, printed wiring boards, and flat panel displays, Dr. Neuhaus synthesized a unique perspective on electronics packaging, interconnection and assembly industry.

Dr. Neuhaus received his Ph.D. degree in Reliability Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the prestigious distinction of Fellow of the Society of the International Microelectronics and Packaging Society (IMAPS). He currently chairs the materials subcommittee of the IMAPS National Technical Committee and serves on the Board of Vyta Corp.

Last Updated on Saturday, 27 June 2009 06:28
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Herb Neuhaus
TechLead Corporation
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