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Comment Human Aspect (Score 1) 687

I've been in an out of the piracy game since irc times but there was one approach that really worked for me.
The author of Lux (a java based Risk game) had a nice system for detering privacy:
1st: The game was free to play for 10-20 times and then it required registration (simple key code)
2nd: The author had set up a website so when you searched google: lux warez, serialz, serial, keygen, his website was the first site you got to where he asked crackers to respect his tiny cottage industry (I think it was 5-15$ for a lifetime key), and at the same time pointed out to users that by stealing his software they were poisoning his part of the ecosystem.

It seemed to work. I never found keys to the software (this was 6-7 years ago), and we didn't pirate that piece of software. I stopped looking for keys after I'd read his page and that was the important part.

On the other hand I have very little problem pirating professional software to play around with 3DStudio and Photoshop, however once I got into photography (and had spent much more than the cost of software on gear) I've had to change my approach. I pay for my Raw software (Capture One Pro) and I use gimp or open source tools instead of PS. Sometimes I want to dick around with CAE software and I have no problem pirating that since I'm interested in demo-ing it and not using it as a tool in my business. I think reminding users what they would be paying for (its your time not the tool) is the best approach.

Comment Re:This could be a boon to semiconductors and MEMS (Score 1) 127

except that E-beam lithography is in effect lithography, the following steps are harder and require lots of infrastructure.
Here is a typical process for getting a single layer into a chip.
Step 1: Clean the substrate of any organics.
Step 2: Apply resist (usually using a spin on process)
Step 3: Expose resist (E-beam -- Photolithography it doesn't matter). The hard part here is exposing in the correct places.
Step 4: Develop resist, usually wet chemistry which will remove or leave only the areas exposed in the previous step.
Step 5: Use the patterns made with the resist (Deposition, Etching, or Implantation)
Step 6: Remove the exposed resist, usually a different wet chemistry.

Then remember that you are going to do this entire process numerous times ( A simple P-MOS needs 4+ cycles without considering metalization). It also HAS to be done in a clean room if you want ANY flexibility as you have to switch the substrate between different machines for each step.

If we decide to go at it like 3D printers where one machine does every step (implantation is still kinda difficult but it could be done with a FIB) then we need to be able to predict exactly what the beam will do which we can't do yet. We are working on learning how to do that but we are not there yet. If we had all the knowledge to be able to build chips like a 3D printer I'm still not so sure we would as the general case since the batch process mentioned above is very cheap (per device). Then again I would not have expected the 3D printer movement to have taken off so quickly, so it could happen.

The costs are already coming down quickly, there are desktop SEMs that cost less than an expensive SUV, the gas injection systems are nothing more than capilarry tubes and solenoids (neglecting that most of the deposition gasses are wicked toxic and may explode if they contact air) so I would argue that the tools are already very much on thier way to being cheaper. The problem is we really don't have any systematic approach to using them to do what I think you are suggesting.

Comment Re:This could be a boon to semiconductors and MEMS (Score 2) 127

Sorry, I went all internet tough guy back there...
I should clarify what I meant.
1st: E-beam lithography as I know it; with an E-beam resist is pretty much the creme of the crop if you want ultra high resolution. It is also a very old technique IE they were looking at it to replace photo-lithography as far back as the '80s but there are difficulties with making a bright electron beam to do the lithography in a parallel manner. Therefore its been used serially with a beam rastering the resist to make the desired patterns. With this techniques you can make very small features.

2nd: I am un-aware (doesn't mean it doesn't exist, just that its outside of my research area) of any analogous ion beam processes; in that we are talking about using a polymer resist activated by an ion beam. There are however very interesting nano patterning methods that use implanted ions either in a sacrificial layer or in the substrate itself, followed by selective etching that could arguably be thought of as ion-beam lithography.

3rd: Focused Ion Beams (FIB) is a rather mature technique for circuit repair and editing because it acts as both and additive and a subtractive process. With the FIB we can make deep holes using gas assisted etching, and then deposit with gas deposition both conductors and insulators. The real advantage of this technique is that we can see what we are doing!! Imaging can be done either with the ion beam or a separate electron beam allowing us to see the structures we are working on with the same or better resolution than we can write or etch with. Normally however FIBs use Gallium (Ga) ions as they are a convenient ion source (the melting point is low and the vapor pressure is also low) these ions are rather heavy and cause damage to the substrate (this can be mitigated through careful selection of the beam energy and angle), Ga also acts as a dopant in silicon.

4th: There was a company that tried to deal with the serial nature of focused ion beam milling. This company developed a 1024 beam array where each beam could be individually steered or turned on or off using a selector plate made with standard Si manufacturing techniques. This device used Argon (Ar) ions to avoid doping. Sadly it seems this company has stopped developing this device. They might be entering with a similar setup for electron beams in the future. My understanding is that the ion beam device worked best for gas-assisted processes where the deposition or etching gas is activated by secondary electrons freed when the ion hits the target. Seeing as an electron beam also free secondary electrons I think they changed directions to an electron only technique but these are only rumors I've heard around work.

Both Ion beam and electron beam techniques are more difficult than they appear as the yield (either sputtering or secondary electron) is dependent upon the incidence angle between the beam and the surface. It therefore becomes much more difficult to predict the interactions once the surface is no longer planar.

My comment about the 30nm not being all that sexy was with respect to TFA, I saw this on FEI's facebook page a couple of weeks ago and thought the same thing. Yes its neat that they can make shapes at this size with good control (heaven knows we can't do it yet with electron deposition or fib deposition [we can make cute test cases but we are far from arbitrary shapes even though we can do overhangs already]), but for me the real limitation is that they seem quite limited with respect to the materials that they can make things out of. I'm sure this is a great thing and we will see some neat tricks in the future with people either using these printed structures at templates for some nano imprint lithography, or as high tech resist with some neat deposition into the voids. My real problem with TFA is that they are using polymers and I don't like polymers.

So anyway, yes we can make feature sizes less than 30nm with both electron beams and ion beams; however we are still a long way away from being able to make a demo as seen in the video. Large scale E-beam is hard! If we wanted to replace photo-lithography with E-beam lithography we would need much brighter sources and much more sensitive resists.... which are exactly the problems faced by EUV. The good news is that there is a lot of money going into solving these problems so we may find solutions to both problems which may one day make large scale E-beam feasible.

Comment Re:This could be a boon to semiconductors and MEMS (Score 1) 127

depends on what you mean by smaller features. With 30keV Ga ions on Si the effective range is on the order of 27nm which basically limits your z resolution to something around 30nm, You can do a bit better with lateral resolution, FEI claims something on the range to sub 10s of nm, but I'm really having difficulty with the choice of the term lithography.

Lithography usually refers to some sort of masking procedure but the real advantage of ion beam is that you can do deposition and milling. You can do similar things with electron beams but its usually referred to as electron beam gas deposition or etching. E-beam lithography usually refers to using photons generated when the electron beam hits the resist to induce a chemical change in the resist which is then developed similarly to standard photo-lithography.

So while you could use a FIB to activate your resist... I don't really see why you would as the resolution is crap compared to a good electron beam. If you aren't using a resist in your so called ion beam lithography then I need some more explanation as to what you mean by ion beam lithography.

A small disclaimer: my PhD research is in the simulation of FIB milling.

Comment Re:This could be a boon to semiconductors and MEMS (Score 1) 127

Well that and they are serial and thus slow. (Yes I know about the parralell methods for both E-beam and Ion beam [also ion-beam litho, not direct write maybe for making nano-imprint-masks]) So the reason they are expensive (they aren't: E-beam is way cheap for the resolution, its just you'd never want to wait for even a single layer of a real device with E-beam litho on a production scale) is that you need lots of them to get anywhere near the throughput you get with photo-lithography.

Sure this technique might be a neat way to make nano-imprint masks, but then again 30nm isn't all that sexy.

Comment Re:Mind boggling (Score 1) 798

Of course the European contract-less plans sometimes get even better. Here in Austria I pay €10/month for 500min +500txt +5GB. Voice and txt coverage is good data is good everywhere I have to wait (trains and platforms), roaming can be a bitch but since its a Chinese smartphone it has two sim cards so picking up another shortterm number when traveling is rather trivial.

Comment Re:Copyright protects profit motive, innovation (Score 3, Insightful) 100

That's not quite true, very often people with money are smart enough to not re-invent the wheel if they don't need to and would much rather pay you a consulting fee or a service contract to tailor the new software to the job they need done. That produces a positive incentive innovate as you now receive feedback as to the parts of your innovations that have marketable value. The trend of clean room reimplementations came about BECAUSE of overly strong copyright, if you can purchase the time of the creator for a reasonable fee why would you ever pay more to steal it??!

Comment Re:We will get solar when there's a profit. (Score 1) 589

Except in many parts of the world (Germany for one) the subsidies are already disappearing. The big difference between these subsidies and the subsidies paid to big energy is that home owners don't have as many lobbyists. These subsidies will last as long as they last, they will not become like farming subsidies because honestly home owners aren't making enough profit to buy the extensions. It will be just like the early hybrid subsidies, which actually makes it a regressive tax since those who could afford to pay (for installation) and receive the subsidies will reap all the benefits, the hope is that it will drive down the cost of equipment. Whether that happens remains to be seen; but it will likely be effective at increasing energy independence. The point is yes, to some, all subsidies are bad, however these specific subsidies are better than most.

Comment Re:Calculus and Shakespeare (Score 1) 1010

You are requesting tech schools, they exist here in German speaking Europe. It was never intended that everyone complete a BS/BA program, these programs are an opportunity to grow as a person and honestly broaden one's viewpoint in a variety of fields. The goal of higher education is to teach how to teach one's self, to do that one must have an idea of what one must learn. The undergraduate, and many programs graduate programs are designed to expose people to a variety of viewpoints in order to provide a framework for future thought. This provides flexibility in thought, you wouldn't tell someone to study only vacuum tubes, because you know that those have become a technological dead end, by advocating a zero breadth curriculum you are basically telling people to bet the farm on a single topic. Sure, you can go back to school, but I studied with a number of older students in my physics program who HAD to go back to get more breadth and exposure and I learned that its very difficult to attend full time college with a mortgage and a full time job.

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