Missing link in open hardware semiconductor ecosystem
Importance of open source ecosystems in hardware is understood well. DIY and maker communities are thriving. Open source hardware for electronics is considered essential in industrial clusters. In all likelihood, Moore’s law is slowing down and computing may shift to progress in quantum and neurological methods.
While electronic circuit printers or makers, along with suitable assembling systems are emerging and progress is happening for open source chip designs, one important aspect of semiconductor ecosystem is missing.
Nanofabricated semiconductor components such as microprocessors and MEMS form the core of electronic systems. Semiconductor manufacturing is a complex, multi-step and complicated process. Semiconductor manufacturing fabrication facilities cost multi-billion dollars to build.
What is desired now is portable or desktop nanofabrication semiconductor plants. This idea may seem ridiculous! and it is worth pursuing as it is ridiculous.
There have been efforts to develop portable nanofabricators.
Electron Beam, Mult-Beam, Direct Laser writing approaches such as DARPA maskless nanowriter project which was pursued further at KLA-Tencor, now in LAM Research, Beam Pen Lithography, Electrolithography, Two beam lithography.
Can laser lithography approach be compacted with use of metamaterial lens?
Another major focus has been on to develop flexible or plastic semiconductor components. Nanoimprint lithography ‘NIL’ methods have been pursued for this purpose.
Mass manufacturing next generation lithography lists EUV photolithography, Multi-Beam, self-assembly and NIL approaches.
‘Good enough’ nanofabrication capability will incorporate 65 nm to 28 nm processes. It should be low cost too.
Will silicon or other emerging material combinations even diamond substrate processes be suitable?
Is use of plastic substrate way to go?
Need to use first principles to develop such portable nanofabricators.
Want to see a scenario in which RISC-V based general purpose SoC made using portable nanofabricators.