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Hardware Technology

The First Plastic Computer Processor 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-somebody-think-of-the-seagulls dept.
jcombel writes "There's been a lot of talk lately about developing replacements for silicon; how about a nearly-transparent film of plastic, woven into clothing or affixed directly to equipment? From the article, 'Researchers in Europe used 4,000 plastic, or organic, transistors to create the plastic microprocessor, which measures roughly two centimeters square and is built on top of flexible plastic foil. ... The processor can so far run only one simple program of 16 instructions. The commands are hardcoded into a second foil etched with plastic circuits that can be connected to the processor to "load" the program. This allows the processor to calculate a running average of an incoming signal, something that a chip involved in processing the signal from a sensor might do.'"
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The First Plastic Computer Processor

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  • Finally! (Score:4, Funny)

    by evildarkdeathclicheo (978593) on Friday March 25, 2011 @11:28AM (#35612654)
    Now geeks can get socially acceptable plastic surgery.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) on Friday March 25, 2011 @11:28AM (#35612664)

    16 instructions should be enough for everybody!

  • foil [merriam-webster.com] noun

    Definition of FOIL
    1 : very thin sheet metal <aluminum foil>

    • This means I can get chips in my tin foil hat? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of it?
      • by muindaur (925372)

        The G Men want to remove your last line of defense protecting your thoughts and free will.

      • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

        This means I can get chips in my tin foil hat?

        Sure, if you make your tinfoil hat out of the bag the chips came in. Might get your hair greasy, but that's a relatively small inconvenience.

        • by LoP_XTC (312463)

          Sure, if you make your tinfoil hat out of the bag the chips came in. Might get your hair greasier, but that's a relatively small inconvenience.

          FTFY

    • by arth1 (260657)

      But that depends on your definition of metal, now doesn't it?
      Is a plastic/metal polymer [thefutureofthings.com] considered metal?

      • by _0xd0ad (1974778) on Friday March 25, 2011 @11:52AM (#35612926) Journal

        No, that'd be a plastic/metal composite.

        Also, composite does not mean the same thing as a polymer. A composite is a mixture of chemically distinct materials; in a polymer, the materials have chemically combined to form polymerized molecules.

        Composite: a solid material which is composed of two or more substances having different physical characteristics and in which each substance retains its identity while contributing desirable properties to the whole

        Polymer: a chemical compound or mixture of compounds formed by [a chemical reaction in which two or more molecules combine to form larger molecules that contain repeating structural units]

    • by toetagger (642315)

      If you would keep reading the next line:
      2 : a thin piece of material

      • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

        In the specific and non-applicable case where that thin piece of material is used to add luster or color to a low-quality gemstone mounted above it.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          OK, how about this [b2b-packaging.com] then?

          • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

            I don't think I'll permit a Chinese company to dictate proper use of the English language, nor a page entitled "Here you obtain information about plastic foils".

            • by gstoddart (321705)

              I don't think I'll permit a Chinese company to dictate proper use of the English language, nor a page entitled "Here you obtain information about plastic foils".

              *laugh* OK, fair enough ... I've never heard the term before, and all of the hits for "plastic foil" seem to be Chinese companies.

              The term seems to be in use, but nothing I would call authoritative on the subject. Though, someone filed a patent [freepatentsonline.com] relating to it.

    • by Tsaot (859424)
      Neither is it silicon. The point of the article is we have a potential silicon replacement for use in specialized cases. This kind of thing paves the way for interactive packaging or other embedded uses that silicon is just too big for.
      • by X0563511 (793323)

        I think they are speaking of "plastic" in the sense of the material having a high degree of plasticity [wikipedia.org], not that it's actually made from plastic [wikipedia.org].

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      The definition for “foil” derives from the Latin word “folium”, which means folio. The beginnings of foils go back to the 16th century, whereas it should be mentioned that at that time a little metallic glossy sheet (of gold leaf) was named by the term foil. This served as the base for enclosed gemstones. Meanwhile the term foil has been extended a lot and describes various products like for example metallic foils, plastic foils, cling film, plastic bags or transparencies. The latter

      • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

        Although Wiktionary has allowed the use of "foil" to describe transparencies, Webster still hasn't allowed that usage of the word. And neither of them allow "foil" to be used in the manner that you seem to think - to describe any kind of thin plastic film in general. If it is used to describe a plastic film, it must be specifically used either as the substrate of a gem or "on which marks are made and projected for the purposes of presentation", neither of which apply to this, nor to cling film or plastic ba

        • by osu-neko (2604)

          Although Wiktionary has allowed the use of "foil" to describe transparencies, Webster still hasn't allowed that usage of the word. And neither of them allow "foil" to be used in the manner that you seem to think - to describe any kind of thin plastic film in general.

          It used to be foils were always made of metal, as reflected in those definitions. Times change. Also, the fact that you say "Webster still hasn't allowed..." and "neither of them allow" means you don't actually understand what a dictionary's function is. It documents how words are used. It does not now and never has had the power to dictate how they are used. The fact that Webster does not document this particular usage is, if the usage is becoming more popular, a failure in the dictionary to keep up t

          • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

            you don't actually understand what a dictionary's function is. It documents how words are used.

            If you want to use a word in a manner which the dictionary doesn't acknowledge, you are welcome to do so in private communications with others who understand that usage, but if you are writing to a broader audience who isn't aware of your non-standard definitions you should use standard words and standard meanings of words, as the dictionary has documented them to be.

            • you don't actually understand what a dictionary's function is. It documents how words are used.

              If you want to use a word in a manner which the dictionary doesn't acknowledge, you are welcome to do so in private communications with others who understand that usage, but if you are writing to a broader audience who isn't aware of your non-standard definitions you should use standard words and standard meanings of words, as the dictionary has documented them to be.

              Except for the fact that dictionaries will not make alterations or additions until the words or usage are in wide and accepted use. So what you are proposing is a catch-22. We shouldn't use such definitions until they are standard, but they can't become standard if they are not used.

              FYI only recently was added (I have issues with acronyms in the dictionary, but that's another rant). You cannot say that it was not standard usage in many business communications for years, regardless of it not being include

        • by Osgeld (1900440)

          well I do not think Webster is GOD of language anyway, and looking up the term plasic foil will yeild a billion results on the topic (besides is it not acting as a substrate for a form of crystal or gem? in this application)

          your argument can be put into the silly light by replacing foil with computer and in reverse, noun and only definition is for a machine, though for hundreds of years computer was a position in accounting, websters does not list that, so that MUST mean its complete horseshit right?

          maybe t

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Although Wiktionary has allowed the use of "foil" to describe transparencies, Webster still hasn't allowed that usage of the word.

          Dude, when "OMG" and "LOL" get added to the Oxford Dictionary [vancouversun.com], it's too late to start worrying about what's "allowed".

          Let's face it, if they're just adding "rotoscope" and "suicide door" to the lexicon (both words which have been around for ever), a dictionary isn't always definitive on what words people are using in practice.

          You can now be free to make up geek-bonics as you plea

    • Nor are organic transistors "plastic"
      • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

        How do you figure? They are "plastic" in both the noun and adjective senses.

        Plastic (n): any of numerous organic synthetic or processed materials that are mostly thermoplastic or thermosetting polymers of high molecular weight and that can be made into objects, films, or filaments

        Plastic (adj): capable of being molded or modeled

        • I see that plastics are by definition organic, but fail to see how organic transistors are by definition plastic. My objection was to the use of plastic as a kind of simplified buzzword: yes indeed these materials fulfill the technical criteria for being considered plastics (though given the fact that it's a tiny bit of actual semiconductor material drowned in an ocean of regular ol' hydrocarbon, this isn't surprising) but to call this a "plastic computer" makes it sound like we're making it out of used bot
          • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

            I see that plastics are by definition organic, but fail to see how organic transistors are by definition plastic.

            AFAIK, any organic polymer that is thermoplastic/thermosetting is a plastic.

            Organic: carbon-based
            Polymer: large molecule made up of repeating basic units
            Thermoplastic/thermosetting: more plastic/moldable at higher temperatures and/or solidifying or just becoming stiffer at low temperature

            They meet those criteria, so they're plastic. At least, the film used as the substrate certainly does.

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      I guess you could say that "plastic foil does not compute!" Hah! You know, cause it *does* compute, but it also doesn't make sense? Like that one show about the Star Wars: "That does not make sense!!"

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      They're just using the astronomer's definition of metal.

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      foil [merriam-webster.com] noun

      Definition of FOIL
      1 : very thin sheet metal <aluminum foil>

      Curses foiled again.

  • I had one of these back in the 1960's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digi-Comp_I [wikipedia.org]
  • long before we can "print" similar circuits at home? interesting non-digital apps come to mind also
    • Bathtub semiconductors? I've developed B&W film in my bathtub, and I've done some small scale glass etching with silkscreens and Armour Etch. [amazon.com] Maybe this would provide an opportunity to re-task all those photo enlargers that are gathering dust in the closet.

      The wife will have my head if I try to convert her new LG front-load dryer into a CVD oven.
      • by rubycodez (864176)
        just use her toaster oven for your CVD processing instead, I've found after you heavy-metal contaminate it by healing NVidia card's cold solder joints, and explain the situation, wife doesn't want it anymore.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday March 25, 2011 @11:53AM (#35612936) Homepage

    Honestly, how is this better than a silicon die in a Plastic carrier? I already can make a processor so thin that you would not feel it in a shirt, and you can waterproof it so it will survive washings. Flexing is not an issue as it's too tiny to care.

    Other than a "neat-o lookie what we did" aspect, I can not see any practical use to replace a silicon die of the same thing.

  • It's got 22 instructions and is made entirely of plastic legos.

    Now I need to figure how to make legos smaller and smaller.

nohup rm -fr /&

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