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How to develop ever-better computer chips

The pandemic accelerated society’s digital transformation by years, requiring more and better computer chips. A Stanford electrical engineer explains how to make that happen.
Computer chips are essential to enabling advances and solving global challenges. | iStock/Tanaonte

Computer chips are everywhere: your cellphone, your car, even your refrigerator.

And they’re essential to enabling advances in artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and faster and better computers -- and to solving global challenges such as climate change. The omnipresence of this foundational technology has been growing for decades, but the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of society, significantly increasing the demand for more and better chips.

In this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything, Stanford electrical engineer Philip Wong and host, bioengineer Russ Altman, discuss why filling that need will require a greater emphasis on semiconductor research in universities, global cooperation, and increased investment in both research and development (R&D) and manufacturing. They also discuss the importance of shortening the distance between the kind of computer chip innovations happening in university labs and the fabrication of the next generation of chips, or what Wong calls “the lab-to-fab gap.” 

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