As electronics devices become smaller and smaller, the challenges faced when designing them become questions of scale. Semiconductors, for example, have a thin, 35-angstrom layer of silicon dioxide used as an insulating material. As the chips get smaller, the insulating material must also proportionally shrink. But once the thickness falls below 20 angstroms, the silicon layer is no longer an effective insulator. Researchers at Motorola, Pacific Northwest National Labs, and Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) are joining forces for development of new insulating materials from crystalline oxides on silicons that are expected to have higher dielectric strengths and higher capacitance. "We are able to eliminate one of the hurdles to continuing the current rate of growth in the semiconductor industry," says Rodney McKee, a researcher at ORNL Metals and Ceramics Div. "If Moore's Law continues to hold true, we'll need the new insulating materials in just a few years." For more information, call Jan Haerer at (865) 241-7613.
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Some of our culture's most enduring robots appeared in the 80s. The Aliens series produced another evil android, and we saw light robot fare in the form of Short Circuit. Two of the great robots of all time also showed up: The Terminator and RoboCop.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.