Xerox have created tiny silicon shards called chiplets, which can be rearranged through a printing process to create circuitry. It may be the future of electronic assembly.
Xerox is behind a potential revolution in electronics, a new technology created by their Palo Alto Research Center: It’s called Xerographic microassembly. The technology is based on the laser printer, which they pioneered in the 1970’s, and could one day be the most efficient way to assemble circuitry.
Xerox’s technology makes use of thousands of chiplets, tiny pieces of circuitry on silicone, which become ink in their experimental printer. The ink, much like the toner cartridge of a laser printer, can transcribe the silicon chiplets onto a surface, effectively printing circuitry. To ensure that all the chiplets land in a way that align them properly to complete the circuit, electrodes are used to create a series of electrical fields that can realign the silicon.
The chiplets can contain pretty much any type of circuitry, such as a microprocessor or memory components. This way of printing circuitry is dramatically different from todays techniques, which involves building large wafers with dies that contain circuitry. The wafers are then cut and plced on top of circuit boards where they interface with other components.
The technology is still in its early stages, but Xerox believes it can redesign how we create electronic circuit boards. It will eliminate the process of making wafers and instead produce an all in one package for making completed electronics.