Motorola is testing cellular telephones that have transistors made with a new gallium arsenide (GaAs) process. The transistors "grow" on silicon wafers. Wafers made from gallium arsenide are typically fragile, but a unique compliant layer that bonds to both the silicon and the gallium arsenide in the new process could alleviate that problem. Combining all components on a single chip also enhances the chip performance by eliminating the speed loss and power consumption that result from driving signals from chip to chip. "In the short term, it will lower the cost of GaAs products by allowing the use of larger, less fragile wafers," says Steve Cullen, director and principle analyst, semiconductor services, Cahners In-Stat Group. "Long term, it will enable the mixing of silicon and GaAs circuits on a single chip." Cullen notes that silicon is great for complex computational circuits such as Intel's Pentium. Motorola has filed patent applications on the process. The company's plans include licensing the technology to other companies, as well as using the technology for development of its own products. For more information, check out www.mot.com.
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