Motorola engineers have figured out a way to fabricate semiconductors combining both silicon and gallium arsenide. They contend their work will reshape the industry as it can be used to make specialized computer chips at a lower cost than previously thought, according to a new article in The Chicago Tribune penned by Jon Van, entitled
Motorola claims chip breakthrough.
Why is this important? Motorola’s semiconductor division has long been losing money, and the company has been advised to cut its losses or sell the ailing business. This could potentially affect the alliance between Motorola, Apple and IBM that results in the development and manufacture of PowerPC chips, the central processing units utilized by Macs. If Motorola can put this technology into play, it could turn the company’s semiconductor business around.
Gallium arsenide has been sought after as a semiconductor material because it conducts electricity faster than silicon, according to Van, and it also emits light. Differences in the crystalline structure of silicon and gallium arsenide has, up until now, prevented the two materials from being used in production chips except for specialized, high-priced products. Motorola’s new breakthrough promises to drive down the cost of such chips.
Van reports that Motorola expects to have new products on the market within two years. A major application for the new chips will be cell phones. Motorola also plans to license the patented fabrication technology to other companies.