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Full Version: Wooden floor generates electricity + The expensive machine keeping Moore's Law alive
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(engineering, design) Researchers create a wooden floor that generates electricity

INTRO: Researchers from Switzerland have devised a method that allows the harvesting of electricity from walking on a wooden floor. The technology is called a nanogenerator and enables enough electric power to be generated from walking to power a lightbulb in testing. Researchers on the project improved the wood flooring their nanogenerator uses by integrating a combination of a special silicone coating and embedded nanocrystals.

The result of their work is a power generation device reportedly 80 times more efficient than natural wood. It harvested enough electricity to power an LED light bulb and small electronic devices. Researchers created their experimental nanogenerator by embedding two pieces of functionalized wood between electrodes. The pieces of wood become electrically charged through the contact and separation that comes from the act of walking. That is called the triboelectric effect.

One of the biggest challenges in generating electricity using wooden floors was that by nature, wood is triboneutral, meaning the wood has essentially no tendency to acquire or lose electrons limiting its ability to generate electricity. One major challenge was to make wood that was able to attract and lose electrons... (MORE)

RELATED (eurekalert): When walked on, these wooden floors harvest enough energy to turn on a lightbulb

(engineering) The $150 million machine keeping Moore’s Law alive

EXCERPTS: Inside a large clean room in rural Connecticut, engineers have begun constructing a critical component for a machine that promises to keep the tech industry as we know it on track for at least another decade.

The machine is being built by ASML, a Dutch company that has cornered the market for etching the tiniest nanoscopic features into microchips with light.

ASML introduced the first extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines for mass production in 2017, after decades spent mastering the technique. The machines perform a crucial role in the chipmaking ecosystem, and they have been used in the manufacture of the latest, most advanced chips, including those in new iPhones as well as computers used for artificial intelligence. The company’s next EUV system, a part of which is being built in Wilton, Connecticut, will use a new trick to minimize the wavelength of light it uses—shrinking the size of features on the resulting chips and boosting their performance—more than ever before.

[...] Each one is roughly the size of a bus and costs $150 million. [...] Only a few companies can afford the machines, and most of them go to the world’s big three leading-edge chipmakers: the world’s leading foundry, Taiwan-based TSMC, as well as Samsung, in South Korea, and Intel. “It is really an incredible machine,” says Jesús del Alamo, a professor at MIT who works on novel transistor architectures. “It’s an absolutely revolutionary product, a breakthrough that is going to give a new lease of life to the industry for years.”

[...] In 1965, Gordon Moore, an electronics engineer and one of the founders of Intel, wrote an article for the 35th anniversary issue of Electronics, a trade magazine, that included an observation that has since taken on a life of its own. In the article, Moore noted that the number of components on a silicon chip had roughly doubled each year until then, and he predicted the trend would continue.

A decade later, Moore revised his estimate to two years rather than one. The march of Moore’s law has come into question in recent years, although new manufacturing breakthroughs and chip design innovations have kept it roughly on track.

EUV uses some extraordinary engineering to shrink the wavelength of light used to make chips, and it should help continue that streak. The technology will be crucial for making more advanced smartphones and cloud computers, and also for key areas of emerging technology such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and robotics. “The death of Moore’s law has been greatly exaggerated,” del Alamos says. “I think it’s going to go on for quite some time.”

Amid the recent chip shortage, triggered by the pandemic’s economic shock waves, ASML’s products have become central to a geopolitical struggle between the US and China, with Washington making it a high priority to block China's access to the machines. The US government has successfully pressured the Dutch not to grant the export licenses needed to send the machines to China, and ASML says it has shipped none to the country.

“You can’t make leading-edge chips without ASML’s machines,” says Will Hunt, a research analyst at Georgetown University studying the geopolitics of chipmaking. “A lot of it comes down to years and years of tinkering with things and experimenting, and it’s very difficult to get access to that.”

Each component that goes into an EUV machine is “astonishingly sophisticated and extraordinarily complex,” he says.

Making microchips already requires some of the most advanced engineering the world has ever seen... (MORE - missing details)