University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) researchers have developed a semiconductor chip made almost entirely of wood.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of replacing the substrate of a computer chip with cellulose nanofibril (CNF), a flexible, biodegradable material made from wood. "Compared to other polymers, CNF actually has a relatively low thermal expansion coefficient," notes UW-Madison professor Shaoqin Gong.
The researchers had to overcome two key barriers to using wood-based materials in electronics--surface smoothness and thermal expansion. The researchers used an epoxy coating on the surface of the CNF to solve both the surface smoothness and the moisture barrier, according to FPL researcher Zhiyong Cai.
The new process greatly reduces the use of expensive and potentially toxic materials such as gallium arsenide.
"We take our design and put it on CNF using deterministic assembly technique, then we can put it wherever we want and make a completely functional circuit with performance comparable to existing chips," says UW-Madison researcher Yei Hwan Jung.
From University of Wisconsin-Madison
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