Irish boffins come up with new chip making tech

Irish boffins have emerged from the jigging bar of the Yeats and Gonne with a new idea about how to make computer chips.

The boffins for Centre for Research Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (Crann) have worked out a way to allow the electronic components to build themselves which apparently does not involve leprechauns, rainbows or Riverdancing pigs.

According to the Irish Times, the  Research is a joint effort between teams led by Dr Justin Holmes, senior lecturer in physical/materials chemistry and by Prof Michael Morris, professor of inorganic chemistry, both based at University College Cork.

Currently computer chips are manufactured using a “top- down” approach, using a process known as optical lithography. This involves etching patterns onto silicon chips, explains Prof Morris.

However what the Irish are doing is using the chemical properties of molecules to encourage them to organise themselves into specific patterns.

So far he has managed to produce device structures measuring less than 10 nanometres, smaller than one thousandth of the width of a human hair.

Morris thinks that these things will be the standard components of computer chips within the next six years.

The project is being watched closely by Intel Ireland and it received €1.8 million in funding from Science Foundation Ireland.

In the short term it could end up in the biomedical industry to check blood samples for individual diseases.

Nanotechnology methods could dramatically increase the number of diseases that each test could screen for and reduce the costs involved in making the test kits, Morris thinks.