Representing ninety percent of the digital electronics market, silicon electronics are instrumental in the development and the future of consumer electronics and the digital world. As people have become increasingly used to integrating advanced digital devices into their everyday life while on the go, the future belongs to ultra-mobile and flexible computational devices.
In a paper recently published as cover article in Advanced Materials entitled “Flexible and Transparent Silicon-on-Polymer Based Sub-20 nm Non-planar 3D FinFET for Brain-Architecture Inspired Computation” (DOI: 10.1002/adma.201305309), KAUST Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, Dr. Muhammad Hussain, and his team outlined their groundbreaking research in silicon-based electronics inspired by the human brain. “Our process sets a major step towards the integration of state-of-the-art high performance devices for ultra-mobile brain-inspired foldable computers or ICs,” they explained.
Much like earlier scientists who were inspired by nature to define their research, Prof. Hussain’s team carefully observed the human brain. They mainly focused on the brain’s surface, the cortex and how its folded architecture helps to compact its size. “The brain has billions of neurons. And each neuron can be considered as the equivalent to a state-of-the-art transistor,” said Hussain. By taking the world’s most advanced transistors, built at KAUST, and devising ultra-thin and flexible substrates to house them, the research group was able to develop the world’s first three-dimensional FinFET on a flexible platform, without losing the integration density or performance.
Since announcing preliminary research into flexible and transparent computing last year, Prof. Hussain’s research group has been able to demonstrate every step and the components required to make this a reality. “I’m pretty much sure that by the end of this year we will be able to demonstrate the world’s first fully flexible silicon-based computer. That will be the big news,” he said.