Skip to comments.Plastic may spell the end of the silicon microchip
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 todays 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 ...
The potential is enormous.
Neat. I wonder why they chose Dresden?
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were already taken?
It sounds neat, especially the possibility of the casual use of sopisticated electronics in cheaper items.
*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?)
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...
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.
P.S. It was a plastic emulsion melt...
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.
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.
If you want flexibility then you cannot use silicon.
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.
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.
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.
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... ;')