Quinquethiophene - a cute word with major implications. Quinquethiophene is an organic molecule which European scientists have recently used to develop a self-arranging computer circuit. Dago de Leeuw, who led the team of physicists at Philips Research Laboratories in the Netherlands, created the integrated circuit by fusing quinquethiophene with a carbon chain containing a silicon group at its end. The resulting semiconducting molecule can arrange itself on a circuit’s surface.
Fabricating organic electronic circuits has enticed researchers for a while. Firstly, organic semiconductors are cheaper and more flexible than silicon. The hope, though is that one day specially designed organic semiconductors can literally arrange themselves into complex structures – by simply throwing them into a beaker (though that day seems to be a way off).
According to the MIT Technology Review, the methods currently used to fabricate organic circuits include lithographic etching and ink-jet printing.
Why is it green? Self-assembly would make manufacturing circuits a heck of a lot simpler and it would save resources. Current circuits are formed by etching into a block of semiconductor material, which means some of the semiconductor goes to waste. Doesn’t seem like so much when you think of the size of a computer chip, but when you consider the number of chips being manufactured… it certainly adds up.
With new chemical processes, of course, come new dangerous and environmentally hazardous compounds. Obviously, it would be hard to approve of these organic circuits if they end up producing such byproducts… but for now, we’ll leave that problem to the green chemists.
written by bob, October 20, 2008
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