A Tabletop UV Microscope

It clears the way for finer-featured chips

2 min read

In semiconductor manufacturing and basic science alike, higher-resolution imaging begets progress, whether it’s by yielding clearer views of integrated circuits, magnetic ­materials, or the innards of biological cells. The highest-­resolution microscopes are found in a few powerful synchrotron facilities around the world, where X-ray beams can be precisely manipulated. Now, with the recent demonstration of a high-resolution ultraviolet microscope that fits on a tabletop, industry and researchers may soon have a far easier time getting the images they need.

The resolution of an image ultimately depends on the wavelength of light producing it—the shorter, the better. Ultraviolet radiation can probe smaller nooks and crannies than visible light, for example, which has a longer wavelength. Makers of next-generation microprocessors want to harness the resolution of 10- to 100-nanometer-wavelength UV radiation, called extreme UV, to control the quality of finely etched lithographic masks, the templates used in producing integrated circuits. Such masks would contain features as small as 32 nm, compared with around 65 nm in today’s masks.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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