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This computer chip is made out of wood

This computer chip is made out of wood
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Computer chips are a wonder of miniaturization. The ability to fit millions of transistors and copper wire in a space the size of your thumbnail is mind blowing.

What's even crazier is that most of the material in a chip isn't even needed for it to work. The electronics, or the part that does the work, for most chips sit on a substrate that's usually made of silicon, although it could be another semiconducting material. The substrate's whole job is to keep everything together, like the poster board underneath a jigsaw puzzle.

The only reason silicon is the go-to substrate is because the modern chip manufacturing process uses silicon wafers to create the chips. Unfortunately, that means that a lot of silicon goes to waste with every chip, and that chips are harder to recycle after they're broken or become outdated.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin think they have a better solution. And, ironically, their solution starts as a material that's about as low-tech as you can get.

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