Coverage of IEDM 2003: Day 1

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Ambient Intelligence: Ubiquitous Computing

In the plenary session, Dr. Werner Weber of Infineon Technologies showed a picture of a man with a sturdy frame strapped on his body. The frame allowed him to carry a full sized desktop computer tower as a backpack, a large CRT directly in front of his face, and an extended stand where he could type on his keyboard. After having solicited the requisite murmur of chuckles from the crowd of attendees, Dr. Weber proceeded to state that carrying a full sized computer, monitor and keyboard around is not the correct approach to realize ubiquitous ambient intelligence that would surround and assist humans with tasks in everyday life. As part of the theme toward the realization of ambient intelligence that surround human beings, several papers were presented in session 8 that examined the use of organic Pentacene film as a potentially commercializable semiconductor material. In general, the mobility of the organic transistors studied thus far are two to three orders of magnitude lower than those of silicon based transistors. While the performance of these transistors is far below that of the silicon transistor, the argument given was that as semiconductor process scaling moves forward and silicon transistors decrease in size and performance, it becomes unprofitable to manufacture small transistor count devices due to the fact that packaging costs could not be further reduced. As a result, low performance and extremely low cost organic transistors could find a niche as the basic building block of ubiquitous computing.

Organic Semiconductor RFID Transponders

In session 8.1, researchers from 3M described their work on a radio frequency transponder. A 1 bit RF transponder that operates between 125 kHz and 8 MHz using an AC power source at a distance of 2~5 cm between the RFID and the RF reader. Although the technology is still quite far from being commercially viable, the research points to a possible future where inexpensive RFID tags can be integrated into all commercial products. Manufactured goods with an RFID tag can then be completely tracked from the factory to the warehouse, through the wholesale and retail channels, and to the home or office of the consumer (The RFID transponder is also built using Pentacene).

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