A Dark-Horse Green Laser Shines

New green-laser chips could power HD pico projectors

3 min read

If you want to show pictures and presentations anywhere, you'll increasingly have the option of buying a mobile phone with a pico projector. And if picture quality tops your wish list, you'll want a model that creates images by mixing the output from red, blue, and green lasers.

The green variant will initially be a cumbersome contraption that combines an infrared laser and a frequency doubler, but researchers at the German electronics company Osram Opto Semiconductors and the Japanese optoelectronics giant Nichia are independently claiming to have met the power and color requirements with a single laser chip. This potential successor to the infrared laser and frequency doubler combo has much to recommend it: It's one-tenth the current size, costs less to make, has a high modulation rate, and produces less speckle, too.

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3D-Stacked CMOS Takes Moore’s Law to New Heights

When transistors can’t get any smaller, the only direction is up

10 min read
An image of stacked squares with yellow flat bars through them.
Emily Cooper

Perhaps the most far-reaching technological achievement over the last 50 years has been the steady march toward ever smaller transistors, fitting them more tightly together, and reducing their power consumption. And yet, ever since the two of us started our careers at Intel more than 20 years ago, we’ve been hearing the alarms that the descent into the infinitesimal was about to end. Yet year after year, brilliant new innovations continue to propel the semiconductor industry further.

Along this journey, we engineers had to change the transistor’s architecture as we continued to scale down area and power consumption while boosting performance. The “planar” transistor designs that took us through the last half of the 20th century gave way to 3D fin-shaped devices by the first half of the 2010s. Now, these too have an end date in sight, with a new gate-all-around (GAA) structure rolling into production soon. But we have to look even further ahead because our ability to scale down even this new transistor architecture, which we call RibbonFET, has its limits.

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