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Technique Turns Computer Chip Defects Into an Advantage

Physicists at Ohio State University have discovered that tiny defects inside a computer chip can be used to tune the properties of key atoms in the chip. The technique, which they describe in the journal Science, involves rearranging the holes left by missing atoms to tune the properties of dopants — the chemical impurities that give the semiconductors in computer chips their special properties.

Though the technique is currently limited to the laboratory, it could prove valuable to industry in the future, as the continued miniaturization of cell phone and computer chips makes the performance of individual atoms in a semiconductor more important.

“The effect we discovered is probably already going on inside the devices we use every day — it’s just not being controlled,” said Jay Gupta, assistant professor of physics at Ohio State and principal investigator on the project. “Once industry takes this effect into account, our discovery could not only enable future computers with faster speeds, but could also enable new paradigms for computing — based, for example, on quantum mechanics.” Continue reading…

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