According to foreign media reports, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Utility Semiconductor, a flexible electronics manufacturer, have jointly designed a high-cost plastic processor and estimated that it could be mass-produced for less than a cent, truly opening the door to nowhere. The electronic age is not there.
When each processor costs less than 1 cent, maybe a piece of bandage, banana peels and bottles can be intelligent, but the dream of scientists has not yet come true, because humans have not yet developed cheap processors.
The number of IoT devices worldwide is growing by the billions a year, which may seem like a huge number, but the concrete potential is even smaller, and the key to holding back development is cheap chips.
Some research institutions have made various attempts before. For example, in 2021, arm launched a new plastic chip prototype plasticarm M0, which can print circuits indirectly on top of paper, plastic or fabric. However, even after nearly a decade of research, it still falls short of the mark.
Existing chip designs are too simple to be mass-produced from plastic, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and flexible electronics maker Practical Semiconductors said at this year’s International Symposium on Computer Architecture. Features plastic chips, and designed 4- and 8-bit processors, but many details remain undisclosed.
For chip fabrication, the research team used the flexible thin-film semiconductor indium gallium zinc oxide (igzo) technology, which has been used in the manufacture of display panels in the past. As a credible and mature technology, the film can be bent into curves with a radius of mm without any beneficial effects.
The research team has produced a sample 4-bit processor, 5.6mm2, comprising 2104 semiconductor devices, yielding over 80%, and estimates the production cost per chip will be less than 1 cent, truly ushering in the era of ubiquitous electronics .
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