Skip navigation
C. Charting a Future Course in Microelectronics

Narrator: This is Science Today. Within several years, it will be impossible to cram any more components onto microchips because the manufacturing techniques will have run its course. That's one reason why physicist Sue Carter of the University of California, Santa Cruz is hoping to incorporate organics such as polymers, or plastics, with the next generation of advanced materials.

Carter: We usually think of plastics as structural materials - like our computer monitor or in our car, but you can actually make electronic circuits as plastics. It's very easy to mold plastic in any forms and shapes you want. It's very cheap to manufacture plastic - you can actually bring plastic to the general public at a much cheaper cost than you can other materials which are much more expensive.

Narrator: And are much more toxic

Carter: Lead is a common material, which is in every single solder joint or every single electronic circuit you see. It's the way they connect circuits together. You could replace that material with a conducting polymer, which would be much more environmentally friendly.

Narrator: This, Carter says will be the future of microelectronics. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.