Ada Genavia
Jun 28, 2012

Plasma startup creates high-energy light to make smaller microchips

Harnessing the energy-generating mechanism of the sun -- that's what scientists at the University of Washington have been doing for more than a decade, including working endlessly with fusion energy. Their work has steadily paid off as UW engineers have launched a startup, Zplasma, that aims to produce the high-energy light needed to create the next generation of microchips. To attain smaller feature sizes on silicon, the industry has to use shorter wavelength light -- meaning a higher frequency and higher energy. UW Scientists are working to replicate the hydrogen plasma on the sun; it is so hot that the hydrogen nuclei fuse together and release energy. A fusion reactor would use hydrogen as its fuel and emit helium as a waste product, a technically challenging but clean source of energy. UW has a lower-cost version of a fusion reactor that uses currents flowing through the material and produces stable plasma.