MIT creates hybrid chip for faster processors

Combines silicon with gallium nitride to create a smaller, more efficient computer chip

MIT noted that Palacios, along with student researcher Will Chung, didn't add the gallium nitride as a layer on top of the silicon. Instead, they embedded it into the silicon substrate, which is an underlying layer. Because the semiconductor industry already uses the same type of silicon substrate, MIT contends that the hybrid chip could be made using today's manufacturing processes, which would be less costly than using different substrates.

"We are already discussing with several companies how to commercialize this technology and fabricate more complex circuits," said Palacios, adding that it could take several years before the technology is ready to be commercialized.

The move was the latest in a series of recent chipmaking announcements by MIT.

Last week, the university announced that researchers there have found a new way to grow carbon nanotubes that could be used by manufacturers to build smaller, faster computer chips. The nanotubes should someday be used to replace the copper wires that connect the transistors and also may even replace the transistors themselves even further down the road.

Last year, MIT announced that a research team at the school had created a new chip design that could be 10 times more energy efficient than processors now used in mobile devices. The design is intended for use in portable electronics, like cell phones, PDAs and even implantable medical devices.

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