Goodbye Silicon! Your Next Computer Chip Could Be Made of Gallium Oxide
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Goodbye Silicon! Your Next Computer Chip Could Be Made of Gallium Oxide


Sending astronauts to space used to take a
computer the size of a washing machine. Now? That same computational might can be packed
into something as small as an iPad! But as we aim for smaller devices, we’re hitting
a threshold…our current materials and techniques may not allow us to continue to progress at
this pace. Because of this we’re being pushed in new
and exciting directions, like innovating the very stuff computers are made of: goodbye
silicon, hello gallium oxide. Traditionally, computer chips have been made
out of silicon–hence the name ‘silicon valley’. A computer chip transistor needs to be conductive, because it needs to be able to pass electric current through the chip, but it also need
to be able to turn off that current easily, so that it can send both messages: yes and
no, 1 and 0. These kind of materials are called semiconductors
because they can be either a conductor or an insulator when needed. Silicon happens to be the most abundant semi-conductor
on Earth. But we’ve pushed silicon almost to its limit
in terms of small we can get it. We’ve hit the threshold of Moore’s Law:
the idea that the number of transistors we can fit onto a computer chip doubles every
year. That was first posited in 1965 and has held
more or less true over the decades. It’s meant that computing power approximately
doubles every two years. But now, approaching the edge of Moore’s
law has meant a flurry of exploration into what comes next… A paper published earlier this year outlines
a case for Ga2O3, or gallium oxide, which may be the semiconductor we’ve all been
waiting for. One of the properties that makes this material
exciting is its large ‘bandgap’. See, semiconductors have their unique properties
because of their bandgap, which is the distance between their outermost band of electrons,
called the valence electrons, and the conduction band, which is where the electrons jump to,
when excited, to form an electric current. So silicon and gallium oxide are both semiconductors
with ideal bandgaps to use in computing, but gallium oxide’s bandgap is larger. This gives it a uniquely high ‘critical
field strength’ and a broad range of possible conductivities, ultimately making it a better
future candidate for computer chip scalability. This field is brand new, like a couple months
ago new, but we think all of these properties mean that you could fit more gallium oxide
transistors onto a chip than silicon transistors AND this new material could potentially improve
the efficiency of future high-power electronics. These discoveries are still very much in the
experimental stages and the potential real-world applications remain to be seen. Research like this, into new materials and
techniques, promises hope. It’s not just new materials in the same
computing methods. It’s also completely new methods of computing
like quantum computing and optical computing. The upside of being backed into a corner by
Moore’s Law it that it forces us in new directions and into exciting boundary-pushing
territory. Want to keep pushing those boundaries with
us? Subscribe to Seeker! And for moore on moore’s law, check out
Trace’s video, here. Fun fact: The original computers used by NASA
in the 70’s were kept cool by a substance that was also used in blood substitutes for
medical uses. Weird. I’m Maren, thanks for watching Seeker.

100 Comments

  • DubNDodge

    Only a couple of months old? Bullshit. I was taught about this in a semiconductor class 2 years ago. Which means it's older than that.

  • Artur Chmiel

    soooo full of shit!
    this got slapped onto my hp so comment is in place 😉
    I don't think my next computer will be from this and i don't think next 10years will be any different.
    Saying that im upgrading my pc next year soo….
    Reported misleading and good kuck with your bullshit!
    😀

  • PrimiusLovin

    Anyone knows of recent or ongoing research, paperwork or books published by Universities, Tech Institutes or by some company on behalf of semiconductor companies regarding the near future and prospective new materials for computer chips?
    Does anyone on earth currently have the slightest idea of the path computer technology will take in the next 10-20 years?

  • Abiy BattleSpell

    Charlie(while on the spaceship already a few planets away):

    guys i got the new navigation system here in my hands so dont worry we wont get lost.

    Mission Control: hey who swapped the new navigation system with my ipad…

  • Spectt

    Haven't exactly been on top of all the new "Seeker" videos lately, but is this a new girl? I like her. 😘 She has sort of a natural flow where it doesn't seem so scripted. I am completely unimportant and my opinions are absolutely useless, but she has my official stamp of approval.

  • Rahul Samanta

    A new material again? Really? I thought the crown already went to Graphene that was invented a while ago and was dubbed the "magic" material of the future! 🤔

  • Kenneth Barbee

    This is great and all but if this is used in chips it would be special applications not mass production. It's all about cost and silicon is as cheap as dirt, that's why it's the go to semiconductor. However it seems the main focus is for computer processors, hence special applications

  • Ankit Arya

    im half way through video, and shes explaining me how silicon chips works, and what i moore's law….tell me what i dont know girl..

  • Rldtravels

    Silicon is on its limits… yes but the tech to mass produce chips and push it to its limits is just begining so hold you horses. The chips as we know them or are going to change soon.

  • Michael Ingling

    Sounds interesting, but I think they'll push for single layer carbon circuits first. That will pretty much eliminate the overheating problem and allow our computers to do more over longer periods of time

  • nutribill

    Although I realize it has become quite common, I find the background music very irritating and distracting. The content seems interesting, but I can't stand to watch the video all the way through because of the onslaught/hyperstimulus of the background music.

  • Yoced Decoy

    So. You tellin me. That to get to space it used to take a washing machine. But now it takes an iPad. Now let me ask you. What if we built an iPad the size of a washing machine? Where tf would we go?

  • e8root

    Gallium Oxide won't allow for high transistor density as much as higher clock speeds. CPU designs will need to be pretty simple at first with not a lot of performance per clock thus not really faster. But maybe we will have >10GHz processors in the future… only time will tell

  • Ali Labeeb Alkoka

    This was an disappointing speaker and the video was poor quality. She honestly is really bad. Hopefully I do not see another video with her presenting it.

  • Sara J

    Hi Seeker! Great video but I have to give some feedback. To the best of my knowledge Gallium Oxide has been used to make rfid's and computing chips for the last 3-4 years. This concept may be new to the general public but its definitely not new in terms of using it in this application. No I didn't read this online and then write an over rated opinion. (I promise) I do however know this information to be accurate because I've been hearing my father rave about it for the last four years. His company has been using it for that long for this purpose and this company is no tech giant, it's just a small company that manufacturers parts for cell phones along with navigation systems that are used for space travel and etc. all right here in the U.S.A. in Raleigh N.C. , by no means am I trying to insult your videos I love them, I only wanted to give you a heads up that although the information in this video is informative, it's not entirely correct.

  • SheLovesItWhenYouPullOutThatPhenomenalDissertation

    yeah because intel's prices aren't already 2x higher for less performance, make up some more bs about how its reaching it limit so they can jack it up more

  • Tronald Dump

    Just focus om quantum computers already and work from there because that will render your 1's and 0's useless

  • Tom Mater

    2:02 "This field is new, like a couple of months ago new".  Gallium nitride has been commonly used in LED's since the 1990's. Semiconductor diodes are essentially one half of a p-n junction transistor, they have been made out of silicon, gallium, and germanium for many years.

  • Heinrich Peter Maria Radojewski Schäfer Leverkusen

    Hello, Maren,
    When I received my master's degree at the technical university 40 years ago,
    we were already dealing with gallium arsenite transistors for special tasks.
    So what are we talking about here?
    A galaxy far far away, a time long long ago?

  • Sired Denied

    it would appears Talk Technical Talk Science copied this word for word almost. the page is called Silicon to Gallium Oxide : The Short Transitioning detail and i can open it in another tab and it reads almost word for word. it apears a day older then this video also. just thought i would let you know.

  • ninjarawr21

    This seems absurd, compared to the speed, electrical efficiency, and ultimately abundance of the key ingredient for the next future cpu: Graphene. Gallium oxide is expensive and not abundant. Not viable for mass production.

  • ZoeQuinnIsAMurderer

    This sucks. Now I have to buy a new heatsink when I upgrade. Maybe I'll buy an all Aluminum tower with aluminum cooling pipes/radiator and heatsink. Yeah, that's the idea!

  • ZoeQuinnIsAMurderer

    I just want to say, computing power can still double 100X once the photon based processor Cal State is programming is released.

  • Allucardsin

    Hey I saw the verge saying gallium nitrite is superior to silicon and I heard this before would you guys mind doing a vs comparison video at some point lol

  • Fred Zlotnick

    If this happens at all, it will take at least 10 years. There are billions of dollars in infrastructure to manufacture silicon wafers and process them. There is nothing to produce Gallium Oxide. The more likely scenario is that chips will grow in the vertical direction (Z-axis) and gain density that way (more transistors). From the reading I have seen Gallium oxide is only useful for power applications, a relatively small but important segment of the industry. There is already infrastructure in place to produce Gallium Nitride for power applications. Don't kiss silicon goodbye quite yet.

  • B20C0

    I don't think that Gallium Oxide gives more "scalability", 1.5~2.5nm will still be the hard limit no matter what material you use due to quantum tunneling and the size of the atoms/molecules themselves. I mean you still have to manipulate the material to be conductive or non-conductive (depending on what you need) which is currently achieved by coating wafers in a material that creates a protective layer which hardens when shooting UV light through a mask at it and then you etch the rest away and "dope" connections. Check this out:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm67wbB5GmI
    A silicon atom is about 217 pm(0.217 nm) wide and we use Silicon Dioxide (which is a bit bigger) for our current wafers and you need a few molecules to create a working transistor. The theoretical hard limit is a 5-molecule width transistor (which would be ~2nm wide). Why? Because a transistor needs a source, a drain and a gate (3 connections) and you need spacing between transistors, meaning 1 molecule width to each side, a total of 5. And this is THEORY, reality makes these things even harder (Ever seen a 100% pure material? Me neither).
    There is a reason 7nm is such a technical marvel, because it uses ~3 molecules per connection, 5nm will reduce this to about 2 molecules.

    Gallium itself is just marginally smaller (187pm), Gallium Oxide (Ga2O3) consists of 2 Gallium Atoms and 3 Oxygen atoms and doesn't have a size advantage over Silicon Dioxide.
    The "breakthrough" she's talking about was made with MOSFETs which are 5 micrometer (that's 1000x 5 nm) and the cool thing about it was that they can withstand much higher voltages than Silicon MOSFETs and have a lot of potential usecase in high power applications such as power plants. They are also tested in FinFETs because of potential cost benefits but you won't see it in smartphones and consumer CPUs in the near future (if ever).

    And for those who actually demand scientific sources in a Youtube comment, here you go:
    http://jss.ecsdl.org/content/8/7/Q3202.full

    TL;DR: Gallium Oxide won't make your computer faster.

  • Zeaiclies

    The have diamond semiconductors and will most likely make diamond processors from that or a hybrid of diamond and Gallium Oxide.

  • Chris Vatalaro

    The computer used by nasa to steer the Saturn V was made from very thin wires in a grid with iron rings around each spot it crossed. SmarterEveryDay has a phenomenal video about that computer if you’re interested

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