Paul Ashby and Deirdre Olynick of Berkeley Lab, standing at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) Extreme Ultraviolet 12.0.1 Beamline. image


This image depicts Paul Ashby and Deirdre Olynick of Berkeley Lab, standing at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) Extreme Ultraviolet 12.0.1 Beamline. Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab

Over the years, computer chips have gotten smaller thanks to advances in materials science and manufacturing technologies. This march of progress, the doubling of transistors on a microprocessor roughly every two years, is called Moore’s Law. But there’s one component of the chip-making process in need of an overhaul if Moore’s law is to continue: the chemical mixture called photoresist. Similar to film used in photography, photoresist, also just called resist, is used to lay down the patterns of ever-shrinking lines and features on a chip.

Now, in a bid to continue decreasing transistor size while increasing computation and energy efficiency, chip-maker Intel has partnered with researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) to design an entirely new kind of resist. And importantly, they have done so by characterizing the chemistry of photoresist, crucial to further improve performance in a systematic way. The researchers believe their results could be easily incorporated by companies that make resist, and find their way into manufacturing lines as early as 2017.

The new resist effectively combines the material properties of two pre-existing kinds of resist, achieving the characteristics needed to make smaller features for microprocessors, which include better light sensitivity and mechanical stability, says Paul Ashby, staff scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, a DOE Office of Science user facility. “We discovered that mixing chemical groups, including cross linkers and a particular type of ester, could improve the resist’s performance.” The work is published this week in the journal Nanotechnology.

Finding a new kind of photoresist is “one of the largest challenges facing the semiconductor industry in the materials space,” says Patrick Naulleau, director of the Center for X-ray Optics (CXRO) at Berkeley Lab.

Moreover, there’s been very little understanding of the fundamental science of how resist actually works at the chemical level, says Deirdre Olynick, staff scientist at the Molecular Foundry. “Resist is a very complex mixture of materials and it took so long to develop the technology that making huge leaps away from what’s already known has been seen as too risky,” she says. But now the lack of fundamental understanding could potentially put Moore’s Law in jeopardy, she adds.

To understand why resist is so important, consider a simplified explanation of how your microprocessors are made. A silicon wafer, about a foot in diameter, is cleaned and coated with a layer of photoresist. Next ultraviolet light is used to project an image of the desired circuit pattern including components such as wires and transistors on the wafer, chemically altering the resist.

Depending on the type of resist, light either makes it more or less soluble, so when the wafer is immersed in a solvent, the exposed or unexposed areas wash away. The resist protects the material that makes up transistors and wires from being etched away and can allow the material to be selectively deposited. This process of exposure, rinse and etch or deposition is repeated many times until all the components of a chip have been created.

The problem with today’s resist, however, is that it was originally developed for light sources that emit so-called deep ultraviolet light with wavelengths of 248 and 193 nanometers. But to gain finer features on chips, the industry intends to switch to a new light source with a shorter wavelength of just 13.5 nanometers. Called extreme ultraviolet (EUV), this light source has already found its way into manufacturing pilot lines. Unfortunately, today’s photoresist isn’t yet ready for high volume manufacturing.

“The semiconductor industry wants to go to smaller and smaller features,” explains Ashby. While extreme ultraviolet light is a promising technology, he adds, “you also need the resist materials that can pattern to the resolution that extreme ultraviolet can promise.”

So teams led by Ashby and Olynick, which include Berkeley Lab postdoctoral researcher Prashant Kulshreshtha, investigated two types of resist. One is called crosslinking, composed of molecules that form bonds when exposed to ultraviolet light. This kind of resist has good mechanical stability and doesn’t distort during development—that is, tall, thin lines made with it don’t collapse. But if this is achieved with excessive crosslinking, it requires long, expensive exposures. The second kind of resist is highly sensitive, yet doesn’t have the mechanical stability.

When the researchers combined these two types of resist in various concentrations, they found they were able to retain the best properties of both. The materials were tested using the unique EUV patterning capabilities at the CXRO. Using the Nanofabrication and Imaging and Manipulation facilities at the Molecular Foundry to analyze the patterns, the researchers saw improvements in the smoothness of lines created by the photoresist, even as they shrunk the width. Through chemical analysis, they were also able to see how various concentrations of additives affected the cross-linking mechanism and resulting stability and sensitivity.

The researchers say future work includes further optimizing the resist’s chemical formula for the extremely small components required for tomorrow’s microprocessors. The semiconductor industry is currently locking down its manufacturing processes for chips at the so-called 10-nanometer node. If all goes well, these resist materials could play an important role in the process and help Moore’s Law persist.

Henry Sapiecha

Living tissue emerges from 3D printer image

This was reposted from The Txchnologist.

Harvard bioengineers say they have taken a big step toward using 3-D printers to make living tissue. They’ve made a machine with multiple printer heads that each extrudes a different biological building block to make complex tissue and blood vessels.

Their work represents a significant advance toward producing living medical models upon which drugs could be tested for safety and effectiveness.

It also advances the ball in the direction of an even bigger goal. Such a machine and the techniques being refined by researchers offer a glimpse of the early steps in a sci-fi healthcare scenario: One day surgeons might feed detailed CT scans of human body parts into a 3-D printer, manipulate them with design software, and produce healthy replacements for diseased or injured tissues or organs.

embedding 3D vascular networks.image

The Wyss team designed a printer that can precisely print multiple materials in 3D to create intricate patterns. Then they addressed a challenge in tissue engineering: embedding 3D vascular networks.

“This is the foundational step toward creating 3-D living tissue,” said Jennifer Lewis, senior author of the study published Feb. 18 in the journal Advanced Materials, in a university release.

The work, performed at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, allows engineers to embed vascular networks into 3-D printed cellular agglomerations. These tiny vessels are critical to increasing the size of synthesized tissues because they provide a path for nutrients in and wastes out of cells laid down deep inside the printed products. Such networks mimic those found in natural tissues.

To make the tissue construct, Lewis’s team produced three “bio-inks” that are laid down by separate printer heads. One ink contains extracellular matrix, a complex mixture of water, proteins and carbohydrates that connects individual cells together to form tissues. Another contains extracellular matrix and living cells. A third used to make the vessels unusually melts as it cools so that researchers could chill the sample and suck out the ink to leave behind hollow tubes.

Lewis and her team can then seed the hollow tubes with endothelial cells, which grow into blood-vessel lining.

“fugitive” ink that can easily be printed image

The team developed a “fugitive” ink that can easily be printed, then suctioned off to create open microchannels that can then be populated with blood-vessel-lining cells to allow blood to flow.

“Tissue engineers have been waiting for a method like this,” said the Wyss Institute’s Dr. Don Ingber. “The ability to form functional vascular networks in 3D tissues before they are implanted not only enables thicker tissues to be formed, it also raises the possibility of surgically connecting these networks to the natural vasculature to promote immediate perfusion of the implanted tissue, which should greatly increase their engraftment and survival.”

5_Figure 4_WEAVE Structure_5

Using their custom-built printer, the fugitive ink for the vasculature, and other biological inks containing extracellular matrix and human cells, the researchers printed a 3-D tissue construct.

All Images: Gifs made from Vimeo movies of the Wyss Institute printing process. Courtesy Wyss Institute/Harvard.

Henry Sapiecha

At California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the world’s most powerful computers are working on some of our most fundamental questions about the universe. The Sierra supercomputer, for example, is delving into the Big Bang and trying to figure out why elementary particles have mass.

tumblr_inline_moving blue on black image

But Sierra is also solving problems that are closer to home. This supercomputer and more recently the world’s second most powerful computer called Titan at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have been helping GE engineers to build a better jet engine.


This image shows a snapshot from a numerical simulation of a generic aircraft engine injector. Top Image: This animation shows a numerical simulation of a jet fuel spray performed on Sierra in collaboration with Cornell. Researchers used between 500,000 to 1 million CPU hours of simulation time. (One CPU hour is equal to one hour used by one computer processor for simulation.)

Jet engines started out as complicated creatures ever since GE built the first one in the U.S. in 1941, and their design has gotten exponentially more intricate since.

Madhu Pai, an engineer in the Computational Combustion Lab at GE Global Research, is working on an elaborate part in the jet engine combustor called the fuel injector. “It delivers the lifeblood of a jet engine combustor,” he says.

Injectors atomize liquid jet fuel and spray it into the combustion chamber where it burns and generates energy for propulsion. “They are one of the most challenging parts to design and very expensive to produce,” Pai says. (The next-generation LEAP jet engine is the world’s first engine with 3D-printed injectors.)

tumblr_inline_jet nozzel image

This fuel nozzle for the LEAP jet engine was 3D-printed from a special alloy.

Pai has teamed up with researchers from Arizona State and Cornell universities to use Titan and Sierra to study what exactly happens inside a fuel injector. The time and processing power the engineers have at their disposal is equal to running 10,000 computer processors simultaneously for over 9 months. “The supercomputer gives us a microscopic view of the inside of the injector,” Pai says. “We can study the processes occurring in regions hidden behind the metal or where the fuel spray is too dense. This allows us to better understand the physics behind the design.”

This is physics with practical implications. Pai says that small changes to fuel nozzle geometry could lead to significant changes in engine performance. “These high-fidelity computer simulations help us understand how air and fuel mix and burn, and eventually reduce the number of trials,” Pai says. “Ultimately, we want to build more powerful engines that consume less fuel and have lower emissions.”

Pai’s simulations could also yield new insights beyond jet engines and improve injectors used in locomotives, land-based gas turbines, and potentially find applications in healthcare. “This is just the beginning,” he says.

tumblr_inline_water bubbles on black image

A still from a supercomputer simulation of a jet fuel spray.

Henry Sapiecha

Take a look at other GE research involving supercomputers here.

File photo of worker cleaning Audi A3 in final check area at production line of German car manufacturer's plant in Ingolstadt

Sogefi’s shares rose more than 3 percent on the news, and were up 2.6 percent at 4.09 euros by 1333 GMT, outperforming a 1 percent rise in Milan’s All-Share index.

The new suspension springs, based on a technology patented by Sogefi, will be made from a glass fiber-reinforced polymer instead of steel and will weigh between 40-70 percent less than traditional steel springs, the company said.

They can be assembled on cars and light commercial vehicles without affecting the suspension system architecture, allowing for a weight reduction of 4-6 kg (8.8-13 lb) per vehicle, it added.

Audi will launch the new springs in an upper mid-size model before the end of this year.

Henry Sapiecha


EXADT_DT450G_PR#1112 micro dust particle measuring instrument image
Yokogawa Corporation of America (Newnan, GA) announces the release of the model DT450G dust monitor. The DT450G detects the qualitative level of dust or particulate matter by working off of the principle of inductive electrification. This probe provides a highly sensitive measurement and is capable of detecting particles as small as 0.3 µm. Utilization of inductive electrification allows for detection of not only particles which make contact with the probe, but particles which pass by the probe as well. The signal generated by these particles is processed by advanced noise filtering algorithms resulting in a highly accurate dust measurement. Features include:

• A measurement range that can be set through a one-touch operation in response to process conditions.
• Automatic drift compensation.
• Air purging which prevents condensate from accumulating at connection points.
• Utility in applications with process temperatures up to 250°C (482°F) and pressures up to 200 kPa (29 psi).

For more information on the model DT450G, visit
Henry Sapiecha

From glue sticks filled with butter to shoes with an in-built air conditioning system, we count 20 of the most bizarre and utterly useless inventions some people actually believed might take off in mainstream culture.

Henry Sapiecha

Henry Sapiecha

Shark-detecting buoy
Researches at an Australian tech firm have recently come up with a potential solution called the Clever buoy, designed to emit sonar signals from a buoy anchored to the seabed by a box. The buoy uses a processor to analyze the returning sonar signals. The crazy part is that researchers have designed the technology so that it is capable of recognizing shark-shaped objects.

cleverbuoy shark detecting image www.sciencearticlesonline (3)

cleverbuoy shark detecting image www.sciencearticlesonline (2)

cleverbuoy shark detecting image www.sciencearticlesonline (1)


Henry Sapiecha