IBM has introduced a molecular-scale technique that the promises to simplify the chip-making process and result in more powerful microprocessors. As described by IBM, the self-assembly method is based on the tendency of certain polymer molecules to organize themselves, creating microscopic patterns on silicon that are smaller, denser, more precise and more uniform than those etched on the chips using conventional lithography.
Among the advantages for fabricators is that this nanotechnology process works with existing semiconductor-manufacturing techniques, eliminating the need to invest in costly etching equipment, said IBM researcher and project participant Chuck Black. Self-assembly is used principally for specific high-resolution steps in a complex electric device, he told NewsFactor. As proof of the process, IBM researchers used self-assembly to create a silicon nanocrystal design for a version of flash memory, used in a broad array of devices. "With self-assembly, we can fabricate patterns in areas where it's very difficult to define the dimensions," said Black. The self-assembly technique is also compatible with existing chip-making tools, adding to its attraction for applications in future microelectronics technologies by avoiding the high cost of tooling changes, Black said.
News source: NewsFactor