Computer chips are at the heart of the $1.7 trillion global electronics industry and the heart of the computer chip is the silicon CMOS transistor.
Today, a leading edge microprocessor contains an astounding one billion (1,000,000,000) transistors. By contrast, when the first microprocessors appeared in the 1970’s they contained a few thousand transistors, packed into much the same area.
For four decades, the performance of computer chips has been advanced largely through steady miniaturization of transistor feature sizes and maximizing transistor density. But now the Semiconductor Industry is facing new challenges. The transistors are so small that fundamental material properties of the silicon and other materials used in the manufacturing process are constraining further progress. The power consumption of future generations of chips is of paramount concern.
To extend its backbone silicon CMOS technology, particularly given the explosive growth in battery‐dependent mobile computing devices such as smart phones and tablets, the Semiconductor Industry has accepted it requires more aggressive adoption of new innovations, including those based on engineered materials.