The science of making electronics out of plastic has recently taken a huge leap forward with the creation of the first working computer CPU chip – processor – made entirely from plastic. While it may sound like an un-natural combination electricity and plastic can work and the scientific types at the IMEC nanotechnology centre in Leuven, Belgium have produced a simple demonstration circuit. Plastics offer the interesting ability to be printed directly onto a glad wrap like plastic, allowing for cheap computing devices – in the cent per chip or less – that may one day appear in places where the cost and lack of flexibility has always stopped traditional computer chips.
Researchers used 4,000 plastic transistors to build the plastic processor. The device measures roughly two centimeters square and is built on top of flexible plastic foil. “Compared to using silicon, this has the advantage of lower price and that it can be flexible,” says Jan Genoe, lead designer.