A chip’s best friend


The good thing about using silicon in electronic components is that it is abundant and easy to dope with other materials to help control how electrons flow through it. The bad thing is that it becomes unstable at high temperatures, say above 150C. Diamonds are also pretty easy to dope, and can handle temperatures up to 400C with ease, but natural diamonds are lousy with impurities that can ruin electric flow. And man-made ones are comprised of many small crystals whose borders likewise interfere with a circuit’s feng shui. But New Scientist reports today that researchers have developed a synthetic diamond film comprised of a single crystal that may be terrific for chips and such. “In the short term, the new diamond electronic components are likely to be too expensive to replace everyday silicon chips, which in any case work well for many applications. But diamond components may be useful in specialised applications,” the magazine says. Likely uses include flat panel displays, big radar systems and space craft.

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