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Microchips play a critical role in our technological development. They act as the "brain" in almost all modern technology and are of far greater significance to society than many might realize.

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Microchips are found everywhere in our daily lives. They are strategically important in almost every industry, from health to energy, industry, aquaculture, transportation, and defense.

During the pandemic the supply crisis showed us how crucial microchips are. The geopolitical situation has brought attention to both the vulnerabilities and the business potential associated with microchips.

Access to new microchip technologies is necessary to ensure competitiveness for Norwegian industry, and provides opportunities to create new jobs with high added value for society.

Microchips are integrated electronic circuits or microsensors produced using micro- or nanotechnology. A microchip can contain of up to 130 billion tiny transistors.

The most advanced chip factories are so complex and expensive that they exist in only a few places in the world. 90 percent of the world's most advanced microchips are produced in Taiwan. This is the backdrop for "The Chip War" between the USA and China, highlighting the importance of supply security.

At SINTEF, we conduct research on enabling technologies and components for the next generation of microchips in SINTEF MiNaLab. One goal is to increase the competitiveness of our customers by developing and delivering customized microchips as a key component in their products.

Microchips can be categorized into several types, and one of them is sensor chips. The foundation for all digitization and automation is sensors and sensor interpretation. Sensors consist of microchips and can measure everything from water quality and power consumption to gas emissions, blood pressure, and viruses.

With sensors, we can, among other things:

  • Monitor and control a smelting plant with sensors that measure temperature, chemistry, and quantities, or detect dangerous gas emissions to reduce the environmental impact of industrial production.
  • Send a tool equipped with sensors down a geothermal or oil well to inform the operator about the wellbore's condition, saving costs and ensuring safe operation.
  • Assist people with chronic illnesses or in rehabilitation towards a more dignified life by using sensors to give the user control over their health.
  • Provide the robot with senses so that it can understand its surroundings and interact with them. This ensures that the robot can perform useful tasks.