Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Integrated circuit


The timely detection of viremia in HIV-infected patients receiving antiviral treatment is key to ensuring effective therapy and preventing the emergence of drug resistance. In high HIV burden settings, the cost and complexity of diagnostics limit their availability. We have developed a novel complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) chip based, pH-mediated, point-of-care HIV-1 viral load monitoring assay that simultaneously amplifies and detects HIV-1 RNA. A novel low-buffer HIV-1 pH-LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) assay was optimised and incorporated into a pH sensitive CMOS chip. Screening of 991 clinical samples (164 on the chip) yielded a sensitivity of 95% (in vitro) and 88.8% (on-chip) at >1000 RNA copies/reaction across a broad spectrum of HIV-1 viral clades. Median time to detection was 20.8 minutes in samples with >1000 copies RNA. The sensitivity, specificity and reproducibility are close to that required to produce a point-of-care device which would be of benefit in resource poor regions, and could be performed on an USB stick or similar low power device.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, File system, Viral load, Transistor, Integrated circuit, Type I and type II errors, CMOS, HIV


Electronic plants, e-Plants, are an organic bioelectronic platform that allows electronic interfacing with plants. Recently we have demonstrated plants with augmented electronic functionality. Using the vascular system and organs of a plant, we manufactured organic electronic devices and circuits in vivo, leveraging the internal structure and physiology of the plant as the template, and an integral part of the devices. However, this electronic functionality was only achieved in localized regions, whereas new electronic materials that could be distributed to every part of the plant would provide versatility in device and circuit fabrication and create possibilities for new device concepts. Here we report the synthesis of such a conjugated oligomer that can be distributed and form longer oligomers and polymer in every part of the xylem vascular tissue of a Rosa floribunda cutting, forming long-range conducting wires. The plant’s structure acts as a physical template, whereas the plant’s biochemical response mechanism acts as the catalyst for polymerization. In addition, the oligomer can cross through the veins and enter the apoplastic space in the leaves. Finally, using the plant’s natural architecture we manufacture supercapacitors along the stem. Our results are preludes to autonomous energy systems integrated within plants and distribute interconnected sensor-actuator systems for plant control and optimization.

Concepts: Blood, Vascular tissue, Transistor, Fern, Protein, Monomer, Integrated circuit, Vascular plant


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are tantalizing candidates for semiconductor electronics because of their exceptional charge transport properties and one-dimensional electrostatics. Ballistic transport approaching the quantum conductance limit of 2G 0 = 4e (2)/h has been achieved in field-effect transistors (FETs) containing one CNT. However, constraints in CNT sorting, processing, alignment, and contacts give rise to nonidealities when CNTs are implemented in densely packed parallel arrays such as those needed for technology, resulting in a conductance per CNT far from 2G 0. The consequence has been that, whereas CNTs are ultimately expected to yield FETs that are more conductive than conventional semiconductors, CNTs, instead, have underperformed channel materials, such as Si, by sixfold or more. We report quasi-ballistic CNT array FETs at a density of 47 CNTs μm(-1), fabricated through a combination of CNT purification, solution-based assembly, and CNT treatment. The conductance is as high as 0.46 G 0 per CNT. In parallel, the conductance of the arrays reaches 1.7 mS μm(-1), which is seven times higher than the previous state-of-the-art CNT array FETs made by other methods. The saturated on-state current density is as high as 900 μA μm(-1) and is similar to or exceeds that of Si FETs when compared at and equivalent gate oxide thickness and at the same off-state current density. The on-state current density exceeds that of GaAs FETs as well. This breakthrough in CNT array performance is a critical advance toward the exploitation of CNTs in logic, high-speed communications, and other semiconductor electronics technologies.

Concepts: Carbon, Electric charge, Integrated circuit, Germanium, Transistor, Silicon, Semiconductor, Carbon nanotube


Practical quantum computers require a large network of highly coherent qubits, interconnected in a design robust against errors. Donor spins in silicon provide state-of-the-art coherence and quantum gate fidelities, in a platform adapted from industrial semiconductor processing. Here we present a scalable design for a silicon quantum processor that does not require precise donor placement and leaves ample space for the routing of interconnects and readout devices. We introduce the flip-flop qubit, a combination of the electron-nuclear spin states of a phosphorus donor that can be controlled by microwave electric fields. Two-qubit gates exploit a second-order electric dipole-dipole interaction, allowing selective coupling beyond the nearest-neighbor, at separations of hundreds of nanometers, while microwave resonators can extend the entanglement to macroscopic distances. We predict gate fidelities within fault-tolerance thresholds using realistic noise models. This design provides a realizable blueprint for scalable spin-based quantum computers in silicon.Quantum computers will require a large network of coherent qubits, connected in a noise-resilient way. Tosi et al. present a design for a quantum processor based on electron-nuclear spins in silicon, with electrical control and coupling schemes that simplify qubit fabrication and operation.

Concepts: Thought experiment, Integrated circuit, Electron, Quantum dot, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Qubit, Quantum information science, Quantum computer


Precise control over processing, transport and delivery of ionic and molecular signals is of great importance in numerous fields of life sciences. Integrated circuits based on ion transistors would be one approach to route and dispense complex chemical signal patterns to achieve such control. To date several types of ion transistors have been reported; however, only individual devices have so far been presented and most of them are not functional at physiological salt concentrations. Here we report integrated chemical logic gates based on ion bipolar junction transistors. Inverters and NAND gates of both npn type and complementary type are demonstrated. We find that complementary ion gates have higher gain and lower power consumption, as compared with the single transistor-type gates, which imitates the advantages of complementary logics found in conventional electronics. Ion inverters and NAND gates lay the groundwork for further development of solid-state chemical delivery circuits.

Concepts: Electronics, Molecule, Chemistry, MOSFET, Transistor, Logic gate, Integrated circuit, Bipolar junction transistor


In the 1940s, the first generation of modern computers used vacuum tube oscillators as their principle components, however, with the development of the transistor, such oscillator based computers quickly became obsolete. As the demand for faster and lower power computers continues, transistors are themselves approaching their theoretical limit and emerging technologies must eventually supersede them. With the development of optical oscillators and Josephson junction technology, we are again presented with the possibility of using oscillators as the basic components of computers, and it is possible that the next generation of computers will be composed almost entirely of oscillatory devices. Here, we demonstrate how coupled threshold oscillators may be used to perform binary logic in a manner entirely consistent with modern computer architectures. We describe a variety of computational circuitry and demonstrate working oscillator models of both computation and memory.

Concepts: Oscillation, Computation, Computer science, Electronics, Computing, Integrated circuit, Vacuum tube, Computer


Recent advances in quantum error correction codes for fault-tolerant quantum computing and physical realizations of high-fidelity qubits in multiple platforms give promise for the construction of a quantum computer based on millions of interacting qubits. However, the classical-quantum interface remains a nascent field of exploration. Here, we propose an architecture for a silicon-based quantum computer processor based on complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology. We show how a transistor-based control circuit together with charge-storage electrodes can be used to operate a dense and scalable two-dimensional qubit system. The qubits are defined by the spin state of a single electron confined in quantum dots, coupled via exchange interactions, controlled using a microwave cavity, and measured via gate-based dispersive readout. We implement a spin qubit surface code, showing the prospects for universal quantum computation. We discuss the challenges and focus areas that need to be addressed, providing a path for large-scale quantum computing.

Concepts: Integrated circuit, Computation, Computer, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Quantum information science, Quantum dot, Qubit, Quantum computer


Wearable sensor technologies are essential to the realization of personalized medicine through continuously monitoring an individual’s state of health. Sampling human sweat, which is rich in physiological information, could enable non-invasive monitoring. Previously reported sweat-based and other non-invasive biosensors either can only monitor a single analyte at a time or lack on-site signal processing circuitry and sensor calibration mechanisms for accurate analysis of the physiological state. Given the complexity of sweat secretion, simultaneous and multiplexed screening of target biomarkers is critical and requires full system integration to ensure the accuracy of measurements. Here we present a mechanically flexible and fully integrated (that is, no external analysis is needed) sensor array for multiplexed in situ perspiration analysis, which simultaneously and selectively measures sweat metabolites (such as glucose and lactate) and electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium ions), as well as the skin temperature (to calibrate the response of the sensors). Our work bridges the technological gap between signal transduction, conditioning (amplification and filtering), processing and wireless transmission in wearable biosensors by merging plastic-based sensors that interface with the skin with silicon integrated circuits consolidated on a flexible circuit board for complex signal processing. This application could not have been realized using either of these technologies alone owing to their respective inherent limitations. The wearable system is used to measure the detailed sweat profile of human subjects engaged in prolonged indoor and outdoor physical activities, and to make a real-time assessment of the physiological state of the subjects. This platform enables a wide range of personalized diagnostic and physiological monitoring applications.

Concepts: Electrical engineering, Integrated circuit, Sensors, Sensor, Measurement, Flexible electronics, Potassium, Signal processing


Fully printed wearable electronics based on two-dimensional (2D) material heterojunction structures also known as heterostructures, such as field-effect transistors, require robust and reproducible printed multi-layer stacks consisting of active channel, dielectric and conductive contact layers. Solution processing of graphite and other layered materials provides low-cost inks enabling printed electronic devices, for example by inkjet printing. However, the limited quality of the 2D-material inks, the complexity of the layered arrangement, and the lack of a dielectric 2D-material ink able to operate at room temperature, under strain and after several washing cycles has impeded the fabrication of electronic devices on textile with fully printed 2D heterostructures. Here we demonstrate fully inkjet-printed 2D-material active heterostructures with graphene and hexagonal-boron nitride (h-BN) inks, and use them to fabricate all inkjet-printed flexible and washable field-effect transistors on textile, reaching a field-effect mobility of ~91 cm(2) V(-1) s(-1), at low voltage (<5 V). This enables fully inkjet-printed electronic circuits, such as reprogrammable volatile memory cells, complementary inverters and OR logic gates.

Concepts: Printing, Inkjet printer, Logic gate, Ink, Electricity, Electronics, Integrated circuit, Transistor


The miniaturization of electronic devices has been the principal driving force behind the semiconductor industry, and has brought about major improvements in computational power and energy efficiency. Although advances with silicon-based electronics continue to be made, alternative technologies are being explored. Digital circuits based on transistors fabricated from carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have the potential to outperform silicon by improving the energy-delay product, a metric of energy efficiency, by more than an order of magnitude. Hence, CNTs are an exciting complement to existing semiconductor technologies. Owing to substantial fundamental imperfections inherent in CNTs, however, only very basic circuit blocks have been demonstrated. Here we show how these imperfections can be overcome, and demonstrate the first computer built entirely using CNT-based transistors. The CNT computer runs an operating system that is capable of multitasking: as a demonstration, we perform counting and integer-sorting simultaneously. In addition, we implement 20 different instructions from the commercial MIPS instruction set to demonstrate the generality of our CNT computer. This experimental demonstration is the most complex carbon-based electronic system yet realized. It is a considerable advance because CNTs are prominent among a variety of emerging technologies that are being considered for the next generation of highly energy-efficient electronic systems.

Concepts: Vacuum tube, Computer, Diode, Carbon nanotube, Electronic engineering, Transistor, Integrated circuit, Electronics