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Plastic may spell the end of the silicon microchip
UK Financial Times ^ | January 2, 2007 | Peter Marsh

Posted on 01/03/2007 12:30:28 AM PST by FairOpinion

In 2000 Plastic Logic, a Cambridge-based start-up company, announced it was attempting to commercialise a form of plastic electronics that had developed from research at the laboratory.

By using a cheap and simple set of processing operations to build up layers of circuitry on plastic “substrates” – the material on which circuits are formed – rather than silicon wafers used in conventional microchips, the developments promised to slash the cost of making semiconductors.

What has given the science behind the company more substance is today’s announcement that Plastic Logic has attracted $100m (£51m) of investment that will fund a plant to make plastic semiconductors – the first of its kind in the world. The factory should be in operation in Dresden, Germany, by the end of 2008 and employ 140 people.

By 2009 the Dresden plant should be producing 2.2m units of A4-size semiconductor sheets a year. They will initially be used as flexible “control circuitry” for large displays the size of a piece of paper that can hold large amounts of information – equivalent to thousands of books.

(Excerpt) Read more at ft.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Germany; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: britain; british; dresden; eu; europe; future; german; germany; plastic; silicon; siliconchip; tech; technology; uk; unitedkingdom
It's significant, that they are actually going into production, even if small to start with.

The potential is enormous.

1 posted on 01/03/2007 12:30:32 AM PST by FairOpinion
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To: AntiGuv; SunkenCiv

PING


2 posted on 01/03/2007 12:31:01 AM PST by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion

Neat. I wonder why they chose Dresden?


3 posted on 01/03/2007 1:00:37 AM PST by Jaysun (I've never paid for sex in my life. And that's really pissed off a lot of prostitutes.)
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To: Jaysun
Neat. I wonder why they chose Dresden?

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were already taken?

4 posted on 01/03/2007 1:10:03 AM PST by TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig (Life is tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid.)
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To: FairOpinion

It sounds neat, especially the possibility of the casual use of sopisticated electronics in cheaper items.


5 posted on 01/03/2007 1:20:26 AM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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To: TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were already taken?

Makes sense. My wife is from Germany. We visit there fairly often and get a couple of newspapers a month mailed over. It's far from what I would call a good place to do business. They're a lot like France. It's virtually impossible to fire someone and the taxes are criminal.
6 posted on 01/03/2007 2:34:25 AM PST by Jaysun (I've never paid for sex in my life. And that's really pissed off a lot of prostitutes.)
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To: Jaysun

*relatively* cheap skilled labor but still close to home (remember, they're from England, not Taiwan)

Existing semiconductor industry infrastructure (Infineon and AMD have big fabs there)

Probably, government incentives (what do you think brought Infineon and AMD there?)


7 posted on 01/03/2007 3:45:27 AM PST by Nervous Tick (I'm conservative, but I held my nose and voted Republican anyway.)
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To: FairOpinion

I became aware of a Japenese start-up company that was developing plastic substrate a few years ago in California.

They bought a building, did a lot of recruiting, I got the interviews, hit it off with the CEO really well, then the tech bubble burst... I don't know what happened with it...


8 posted on 01/03/2007 3:50:56 AM PST by Sir Francis Dashwood (LET'S ROLL!)
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To: Nervous Tick; Jaysun

One more: it's all about "intellectual property protection" for them at this point. They're more assured of hanging on to their IP in a country like Germany than in a country where the costs of doing semiconductor mfg are lower, but the IP protections are shakier. Like, say, Taiwan, or (shudder) China.


9 posted on 01/03/2007 3:52:57 AM PST by Nervous Tick (I'm conservative, but I held my nose and voted Republican anyway.)
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To: FairOpinion

P.S. It was a plastic emulsion melt...


10 posted on 01/03/2007 3:54:51 AM PST by Sir Francis Dashwood (LET'S ROLL!)
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To: FairOpinion
"It's significant, that they are actually going into production, even if small to start with."

The only place this stuff should be used is in "use it once and toss" products like RFID, given the fact that plastic ages and deteriorates so quickly. For "real" electronics, I think I'll stick with silicon.

11 posted on 01/03/2007 3:58:08 AM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: Nervous Tick
Probably, government incentives (what do you think brought Infineon and AMD there?)

I wasn't aware that they were there. I'll see what my wife and her parents might know and get back with you.
12 posted on 01/03/2007 4:25:43 AM PST by Jaysun (I've never paid for sex in my life. And that's really pissed off a lot of prostitutes.)
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To: Nervous Tick
One more: it's all about "intellectual property protection" for them at this point. They're more assured of hanging on to their IP in a country like Germany than in a country where the costs of doing semiconductor mfg are lower, but the IP protections are shakier. Like, say, Taiwan, or (shudder) China.

That makes sense. And, who knows, unemployment in Germany is such that they might have made a deal with them (tax incentives and suchlike) to come to Dresden.
13 posted on 01/03/2007 4:27:14 AM PST by Jaysun (I've never paid for sex in my life. And that's really pissed off a lot of prostitutes.)
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To: FairOpinion
The premise of this article in my opinion is just plain wrong. Si integrated circuits are much faster because of smaller geometries and higher electron mobility. Memories and microprocessors are sold on density and speed which plastic IC's cannot offer. The best they could do in my opinion is low cost-slow speed applications.
14 posted on 01/03/2007 4:52:44 AM PST by Freep EE
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To: FairOpinion

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.


15 posted on 01/03/2007 4:59:48 AM PST by xp38
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To: Wonder Warthog

If you want flexibility then you cannot use silicon.


16 posted on 01/03/2007 6:51:06 AM PST by misterrob (Jack Bauer/Chuck Norris 2008)
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To: Freep EE

It really depends on the application. Silicon is not the furture for flexible electronics. Organic and printable electronics are. PE circuits attack a different problem than traditional silicon does. It is also going to be fractionally cheaper to make these circuits when you consider the cost to build an Si foundry is now measured in the billions of dollars.


17 posted on 01/03/2007 6:55:15 AM PST by misterrob (Jack Bauer/Chuck Norris 2008)
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To: misterrob
"If you want flexibility then you cannot use silicon.

Who said anything about "flexibility"?? I'm talking about reliability and longevity. "If" the "plastic circuit" pushers can actually DEMONSTRATE the such circuitry has equivalent long-term reliability to silicon, then I'll be interested--otherwise, it's only good for the "use it once and toss it" applications.

As a chemist, I know how SHORT the useful life of most plastic products typically is--eco-propaganda to the contrary.

18 posted on 01/03/2007 7:42:33 AM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: Wonder Warthog

Flexible circuits open up areas that traditional silicon cannot. You might not see the value in e-paper, flexible displays, signage or rfid but plenty of other people do. And while it is true that reliability of said devices is not there it will be.

It isn't about PE/TF/PV vs Silicon. That's the wrong conversation to be engaged in.


19 posted on 01/03/2007 8:11:47 AM PST by misterrob (Jack Bauer/Chuck Norris 2008)
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To: FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Swordmaker; martin_fierro; HAL9000

Thanks FairO. Fascinating that plastics can be used this way; I wonder if this is better, considering that these plastics may be made from petroleum products... ;')

sidebar:

http://www.ultraconductors.com/


20 posted on 01/03/2007 8:24:19 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Ahmedumbass and the mullahcracy is doomed. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Jaysun
Neat. I wonder why they chose Dresden?

AMD has one of its main semiconductor plants in Dresden. I don't know if that's relevant or not, but it may be.

21 posted on 01/03/2007 8:32:31 AM PST by TChris (We scoff at honor and are shocked to find traitors among us. - C.S. Lewis)
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To: Wonder Warthog
As a chemist, I know how SHORT the useful life of most plastic products typically is--eco-propaganda to the contrary.

How many electronic devices are used beyond, say 20 years at the outside? ...especially computers? Most devices are obsolete in 5-10 years. I think long-term life is nearly irrelevant for the majority of consumer electronics.

22 posted on 01/03/2007 8:36:05 AM PST by TChris (We scoff at honor and are shocked to find traitors among us. - C.S. Lewis)
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To: b_sharp; neutrality; anguish; SeaLion; Fractal Trader; grjr21; bitt; KevinDavis; Momaw Nadon; ...
FutureTechPing!
An emergent technologies list covering biomedical
research, fusion power, nanotech, AI robotics, and
other related fields. FReepmail to join or drop.

23 posted on 01/03/2007 8:52:49 AM PST by AntiGuv ("..I do things for political expediency.." - Sen. John McCain on FOX News)
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To: TChris

You have to look at the cost to produce these things. Foundry costs are hugely expensive whereas the cost to build PE circuits is rather low. Because you can make these things without huge capital costs the disposable aspect of these becomes more attractive.


24 posted on 01/03/2007 8:55:00 AM PST by misterrob (Jack Bauer/Chuck Norris 2008)
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To: FairOpinion
The potential is enormous.

Encasing the finished substrate with plastic instead of ceramic provided lower cost chips for lower ambient temperature applications. I do not understand the point that plastic is a lower cost substrate. Silicon is the most abundant element in the Earth's crust; second only to oxygen. Is there a shortage of silicon?

25 posted on 01/03/2007 8:57:35 AM PST by MosesKnows
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To: Wonder Warthog
The only place this stuff should be used is in "use it once and toss" products like RFID, given the fact that plastic ages and deteriorates so quickly. For "real" electronics, I think I'll stick with silicon.

That would depend on the properties of the plastic, wouldn't it? If (as it seems) the plastic itself is the semiconductor, I'd think that the aging properties, etc., would probably be different from your tupperware.

Plus which, it's generally things like UV that break down plastic -- and you can encase the circuits to sheild from that.

26 posted on 01/03/2007 8:58:58 AM PST by r9etb
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To: MosesKnows
Silicon is the most abundant element in the Earth's crust; second only to oxygen. Is there a shortage of silicon?

Abundant, but probably lots harder to work with than plastic.

27 posted on 01/03/2007 8:59:52 AM PST by r9etb
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To: Sir Francis Dashwood

What was the name of the Japanese outfit? I speak fluent Japanese, live in CA, and have a huge interest in MEMS-related technologies.


28 posted on 01/03/2007 9:20:44 AM PST by gaijin
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To: SunkenCiv

I think plastics can be made from corn also....


29 posted on 01/03/2007 9:28:51 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Maybe that explains why it goes all the way through undigested...


30 posted on 01/03/2007 10:07:24 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Ahmedumbass and the mullahcracy is doomed. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: MosesKnows

It's the process of making highly pure silicon that is expensive.


31 posted on 01/03/2007 10:41:29 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( WND, NewsMax, and Townhall.com are not valid news sources.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Some of the earliest plastics were made from cassein, from milk.


32 posted on 01/03/2007 10:43:18 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( WND, NewsMax, and Townhall.com are not valid news sources.)
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To: FairOpinion
From the BBC (if people are still reading this thread): Two articles, apparently it's sort of a British pride thing.
33 posted on 01/03/2007 11:46:54 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( WND, NewsMax, and Townhall.com are not valid news sources.)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
The second website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6227455.stm.
34 posted on 01/03/2007 11:47:30 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( WND, NewsMax, and Townhall.com are not valid news sources.)
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To: TChris
"Most devices are obsolete in 5-10 years. I think long-term life is nearly irrelevant for the majority of consumer electronics."

The problem is that I doubt "plastic semiconductors" can be made to last even 5 years. Plastics are NOT hugely stable (with some exceptions). They have to have all sorts of additives to stabilize them.

35 posted on 01/03/2007 1:06:20 PM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: r9etb
"That would depend on the properties of the plastic, wouldn't it? If (as it seems) the plastic itself is the semiconductor, I'd think that the aging properties, etc., would probably be different from your tupperware."

Well, no. It's dependent on the "plastic system", which includes all the different possible chemistries of the polymer, plus its additives, plus whatever magic ingredients have to be added to give the plastic its semiconductor properties. Add all this up, and it turns out to be an EXTREMELY complicated matrix. It makes silicon look simple by comparison.

"Plus which, it's generally things like UV that break down plastic -- and you can encase the circuits to sheild from that."

UV is only one of the possible degradation mechanisms, others are HEAT, exposure to oxygen (or ozone). Like I said---REALLY complicated. And all these factors will work to shorten the operational life.

36 posted on 01/03/2007 1:06:38 PM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: Wonder Warthog
Silicon production is relatively simple; it is also tedious and expensive. If plastic microchips can be made cheaply and they remain basically stable, wouldn't that be a bonus?

If you look at the link in comment 34, it states that--at least initially--these plastic microchips are going to be used for more simpler things than the ones in many people's computers.

37 posted on 01/03/2007 2:49:38 PM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( WND, NewsMax, and Townhall.com are not valid news sources.)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu; Wonder Warthog

http://blog.nanomarkets.net/blog/client/index.cfm/2007/1/3/Plastic-Logic-Gets-100-million--A-Happy-New-Year-for-All-of-Us


38 posted on 01/03/2007 6:03:16 PM PST by misterrob (Jack Bauer/Chuck Norris 2008)
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To: Jaysun
Probably, government incentives (what do you think brought Infineon and AMD there?)

Infineon is a Siemens spinoff (memory and other small electronic chips manufacturer), AMD was inticed with cheap spare fab capacity at the time, that they sorely needed and R&D on good terms.

39 posted on 01/03/2007 8:47:04 PM PST by CutePuppy (If you don't ask the right questions you may not get the right answers)
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To: CutePuppy; Nervous Tick; TChris
Infineon is a Siemens spinoff (memory and other small electronic chips manufacturer), AMD was inticed with cheap spare fab capacity at the time, that they sorely needed and R&D on good terms.

Thanks for the info guys. I'm sure that Infineon and AMD does have something to do with the Dresden choice. They're (Germany) in dire need of new business so I hope the company can take advantage of that fact. I wish them luck once they're planted there.
40 posted on 01/03/2007 9:25:36 PM PST by Jaysun (I've never paid for sex in my life. And that's really pissed off a lot of prostitutes.)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
"If plastic microchips can be made cheaply and they remain basically stable, wouldn't that be a bonus?"

But that question of stability is THE key issue. It may be possible to address it, but I'm REALLY skeptical that it can be done successfully. Certainly I wouldn't invest any of my dollars in it.

"If you look at the link in comment 34, it states that--at least initially--these plastic microchips are going to be used for more simpler things than the ones in many people's computers."

Which is exactly what I'm talking about with the "use it once and toss it" market.

41 posted on 01/04/2007 5:01:20 AM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: Jaysun

Do WE look, like we need money ?


42 posted on 01/04/2007 7:31:45 AM PST by Rummenigge (there's people willing to blow out the light because it casts a shadow)
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To: Rummenigge
Do WE look, like we need money ?

Yes. YOU need a lot of things. You're economy is crap because you guys apparently can't give up on the idea of socialism, you're kids go to college for a living and stack up a pile of degrees they'll never use, and your aging population has to be supported by somebody. Of course all of this is lost if you believe that "the government" pays for this or that.

.
43 posted on 01/04/2007 8:19:57 AM PST by Jaysun (I've never paid for sex in my life. And that's really pissed off a lot of prostitutes.)
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To: null and void

Ping


44 posted on 01/04/2007 8:33:13 AM PST by LisaAnne
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To: LisaAnne

Thanks.


45 posted on 01/04/2007 11:08:27 AM PST by null and void (Propaganda doesn't have to make sense. Hell, it often works better if it doesn't.)
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To: Jaysun

ummm

- crap economy ?

- states costs too high - running either a deficit or too high taxes ?

- low birth rates of the upper classes ?


isn't that more a typical US problem ?

>> Of course all of this is lost if you believe that "the government" pays for this or that.>>

Is that what you believe ? I'd not have thought you are that stupid.


46 posted on 01/05/2007 1:01:38 AM PST by Rummenigge (there's people willing to blow out the light because it casts a shadow)
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To: Rummenigge
If Germany were a US State its economy would rank last behind all other 50. America doesn't have a birth problem, we're making babies and just passed the 300 million mark. And America's taxes are far less than that of Germany. On fuel alone a gallon of gas in America is cheaper than the taxes that Germany charges on that same gallon.

Germany has some of the best minds in the world. You guys are super at engineering and design. I just wish your government would step aside at let you grow to your full potential.

Your economy isn't that bad - yet. But it's coming. You have to get rid of some of the social spending before it eats you alive.

I think of it like this:
A farmer plants some corn and waits for it to grow. Once it does he eats some and saves the rest to plant again. If he eats 30% of his corn he'll still have a lot more to plant than he did the first time. However, if he eats 50% of his corn he can't grow nearly as much and the size of his farm will be much less than it would have been. The same for government. The more they use the less you can grow. The government in Germany uses way too much.
47 posted on 01/05/2007 12:09:49 PM PST by Jaysun (I've never paid for sex in my life. And that's really pissed off a lot of prostitutes.)
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To: Jaysun

Then what you waiting for ? Come overe here and help me making engineer babies ...

The rest is all good and well but will you please tell this not to me since I know - but to our beloved Mrs. Merkel ?


48 posted on 01/08/2007 1:34:22 AM PST by Rummenigge (there's people willing to blow out the light because it casts a shadow)
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