Author's Latest Posts


Toward Neuromorphic Designs


Part one of this series considered the mechanisms of learning and memory in biological brains. Each neuron has many fibers, which connect to adjacent neurons at synapses. The concentration of ions such as potassium and calcium inside the cell is different from the concentration outside. The cellular membrane thus serves as a capacitor. When a stimulus is received, the neuron releases neur... » read more

Terminology Beyond von Neumann


Neural networks. Neuromorphic computing. Non-von Neumann architectures. As I’ve been researching my series on neuromorphic computing, I’ve encountered a lot of new terminology. It hasn’t always been easy to figure out exactly what’s being discussed. This explainer attempts to both clarify the terms used in my own articles and to help others sort through the rapidly growing literature in... » read more

Ruthenium Liners Give Way To Ruthenium Lines


For several years now, integrated circuit manufacturers have been investigating alternative barrier layer materials for copper interconnects. As interconnect dimensions shrink, the barrier accounts for an increasing fraction of the total line volume. As previously reported, both cobalt and ruthenium have drawn substantial interest because they can serve as both barrier and seed layers, minimizi... » read more

Planes, Birdhouses And Image Recognition


My recent blog post on the limits of neuromorphic computing took an optimistic view: even neuromorphic systems that are relatively crude by the standards of biological brains can still find commercially important applications. A few days after I finished it, I was reminded that the pessimists are not wrong when a friend of mine shared this image. Fig. 1: Trover Gourds in purple martin nest... » read more

Pessimism, Optimism And Neuromorphic Computing


As I’ve been researching this series on neuromorphic computing, I’ve learned that there are two views of the field. One, which I’ll call the “optimist” view, often held by computer scientists and electrical engineers, focuses on the possibilities: self-driving cars. Homes that can learn their owners’ needs. Automated medical assistants. The other, the “pessimist” view, often hel... » read more

Neuromorphic Computing: Modeling The Brain


Can you tell the difference between a pedestrian and a bicycle? How about between a skunk and a black and white cat? Or between your neighbor’s dog and a colt or fawn? Of course you can, and you probably can do that without much conscious thought. Humans are very good at interpreting the world around them, both visually and through other sensory input. Computers are not. Though their sheer... » read more

Materials For Future Electronics


Examining the research underway in electronics materials provides a keyhole view into what may be possible in future electronics design. Although some of this research will not end up in commercial products, it does provide an indication of the kinds of problems that are being addressed, how they are being approached, and where the research dollars are being spent. Flexible electronics are a... » read more

The Other Side Of H1-B Visas


There is a lot of discussion these days about “Hire American.” But what does that actually mean in practice? I’m at the Materials Research Society Spring Meeting this week, where one of the presentations was by a scientist who works at the TEL Technology Center, America, in Albany, NY. It’s the largest Tokyo Electron research center outside of Japan. It’s affiliated with the SUNY P... » read more

Will Self-Heating Stop FinFETs


New transistor designs and new materials don’t appear out of thin air. Their adoption always is driven by the limitations of the incumbent technology. Silicon germanium and other compound semiconductors are interesting because they promise superior carrier mobility relative to silicon. [getkc id="185" kc_name="FinFET"] transistor designs help minimize short channel effects, a critical limi... » read more

TFETs And/Or MOSFETs For Low-Power Design


As discussed in Reducing Subthreshold Swing With TFETs, papers at December’s IEEE Electron Device Meeting examined a variety of potential designs for tunneling transistors (TFETs). That focus continued at the recent CS International Conference. In particular, Nadine Collaert discussed IMEC’s work on InGaAs homo-junction devices. Many compound semiconductor devices depend on heterojunctio... » read more

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