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Hardware Science Technology

Spintronics Used To Create 3D Microchip 28

Zothecula writes "A major obstruction to the development of practical 3D microchips is moving data and logic signals from one layer of circuitry to another. This can be done with conventional circuitry, but is quite cumbersome and generates a good deal of heat inside the 3D circuit. Physicists at the University of Cambridge have now developed a spintronic shift register that allows information to be passed between different layers of a 3D microchip. 'To create the microchip, the researchers used an experimental technique called ‘sputtering’. They effectively made a club-sandwich on a silicon chip of cobalt, platinum and ruthenium atoms (abstract). The cobalt and platinum atoms store the digital information in a similar way to how a hard disk drive stores data. The ruthenium atoms act as messengers, communicating that information between neighbouring layers of cobalt and platinum. Each of the layers is only a few atoms thick. They then used a laser technique called MOKE to probe the data content of the different layers. As they switched a magnetic field on and off they saw in the MOKE signal the data climbing layer by layer from the bottom of the chip to the top.'"
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Spintronics Used To Create 3D Microchip

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @12:41PM (#42762091)

    Sputtering [] is experimental? News to me.

    • by bityz ( 2011656 )
      perhaps making chips by sputtering is experimental?
      • by cellocgw ( 617879 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {wgcollec}> on Friday February 01, 2013 @01:03PM (#42762279) Journal

        Well, certainly, making aggrieved comments by sputtering about the OP is past the experimental stage.

        (disclaimer: I ran sputtering machines in 1974 and they sure as heck weren't new then)

      • Nope, sputtering has been a pretty standard part of the semiconductor process for at least 2 decades now...
        • Get off my lawn! I was involved in a sputtering project, production not experimental, in 1968.

          It is a well-known industrial method for various kinds of non-obvious plating, such as aluminum on PVC. In the experience I referred to above, aluminum, platinum and/or gold were layered onto glass and silicon substrates.

          It is how the aluminum interconnect layer is deposited on silicon chips, after all.

    • Sputtering [] is experimental? News to me.

      A statement pretty much everyone who ever owned a Chevy Corvair would be hard pressed to disagree with.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by plus_M ( 1188595 )
      Maybe by "experimental technique" they meant "a technique that is used in experiments", rather than "a technique that is still in experimental stages". That is how I read it. We often call things such as X-ray crystallography "experimental techniques".
      • Maybe by "experimental technique" they meant "a technique that is used in experiments",

        Indeed. It is an "experimental technique" rather than a "theoretical technique" or a "computational technique", say. It's frustrating to read an abstract of a physics paper which sounds like the authors have performed a nifty measurement, only to find that in fact they are proposing an idea, or have performed a simulation, or theoretically analysed the problem. (Don't get me wrong, they're all equally important things, but not the same as performing an experiment). Thus, it's nice to emphasise one's "experi

    • I have no background on this kind of thing so i'm sure someone will come along here and happily correct me if i'm wrong, but the link you provide about Sputtering doesn't seem to have anything to do with what they're doing here.

      They're using Sputtering, but in a new way. I'd consider that experimental for most pratical purpuses. One can make a fire and demonstrate quite easily that boiling water produces steam. However when Heron played around with the idea and invented a (rather impratical but somewhat

  • I read a lot of summaries on slashdot on topics I know nothing about, but they usually give me some idea what's going on. This one is giving me no clues but sounds really interesting. I'm not stupid, I just know the software and not the physical medium for squat, please explain this down to relatively smart persons laymans terms someone?
  • Am I seriously the first one here to see the obvious opportunity for jokes about MOKE signals?

    You guys are slipping.
  • ... if it would work better with osmium/iridium instead of platinum? Of course, there's prior art.
  • Probably an obvious question but what advantages are we expecting out of 3D microchips that can't be gotten already from massively parallel systems, just a footprint saving or is there more?

  • They effectively made a club-sandwich on a silicon chip of cobalt, platinum and ruthenium atoms

    So back of the envelope math based on current die sizes, quoted thickness from the article (several hundred nanoscale layers) and $1600/troy oz price for Pt yields an added material cost of roughly $0.12/chip. So, cheaper than I was expecting.

If computers take over (which seems to be their natural tendency), it will serve us right. -- Alistair Cooke