Silicon Based Life Forms?

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It’s been a while since we last heard from them, but the forgotten and disgruntled section of the UKs scientific community who were last seen attempting to hijack the entire UK micro and nanotechnology budget, those who work with silicon rather than nanotubes are up in arms and hopping mad about the lack of funding.

According to CIE, “There is concern that the Government, through the DTI, appears to be more concerned with looking into largely unproven applications associated with nanotechnology – without realising that silicon is part of nanotechnology.

As a result, Silicon Futures – a network 12 UK universities in this field – are grumpily calling for “a major injection of research investment, which would enable the UK to rank among the world leaders in promoting the integration of mixed technologies, including nanotechnologies, with silicon.” The group is currently carrying out extensive work on developing a detailed and quantified strategy for our Silicon Futures with more details being available here.

So, nanotech is OK, as long as it based on silicon. Oddly enough, this is exactly Intels position, but we don’t see them running cap in hand to the governmemt. Rather, the key is understanding how all the new nano enabled sensors will co-exist with the silicon based backend – after all, any CFO who knows the cost of a new 300mm wafer fab won;t be in any hurry to scrap it, no matter what the amortization rate.

The problem here is all about power and influence. Technology has effectively meant solid state physics for the last thirty years. We don’t see that changing overnight, but a lot of the work is performed in what are effectively mature industries quite capable of funding their own research.

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