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Physics shines light on energy saving, faster computers

Understanding how light interacts with matter could make possible the development of new integrated-circuit technologies that result in faster computers that use less energy.

More research needs to occur to further our understanding of how materials bond to each other—such as silicon and next-generation insulating materials for integrated-circuit technologies, said North Carolina State University Distinguished University Professor Dr. David Aspnes, who wrote a paper on the subject with post-doctoral research associate Dr. Eric Adles. Once more research occurs, it could help in the selection and processing of materials that bond to silicon more uniformly, resulting in faster computers that utilize energy more efficiently.

Adles said the research allows scientists and engineers to use nonlinear-optical spectroscopy—which examines light reflected, absorbed, or produced by a substance to determine its physical properties—to obtain more accurate information on a substance at the atomic scale. For example, the research could help get better data on the physical properties of the “interface”—the one-atom-thick layer where two materials bond to each other. Essentially, Adles said, the results provide a “key” that can be used by researchers to analyze spectroscopy data. Previously, scientists could collect such data on the interface, but had no means of interpreting it correctly on the atomic scale.

Aspnes said the goal of the research was to “improve our understanding of how things work,” but he added it also gives others the tools to better analyze data and therefore gives manufacturers and industry scientists the opportunity to make better decisions about how best to move forward.

Source:  1 May 2008, InTech Home InTech Home, Physics shines light on energy saving, faster computers, Staff @ Tech Home,

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