With the use of silicon in semiconductor manufacturing approaching its limits in recent years, chipmakers are constantly looking for new materials that will allow them to keep shrinking their manufacturing processes, which in turn will enable them to pack more transistors in the same area.
Not to be outdone by IBM’s recent announcement of its 2-nanometer nanosheet technology, TSMC, the world's largest contract semiconductor manufacturer, in conjunction with the National University of Taiwan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have announced the development of such a material called semi-metal bismuth, which they hope will enable the production of 1-nanometer chips in the coming years.
As fabrication processes get smaller, chipmakers face the problem of higher resistance and lower currents at transistor contact electrodes, which are responsible for bringing power to transistors. According to the research results published in the journal Nature (paywall) accessed by TomsHardware, by using semi-metal bismuth as the transistor’s contact electrode, the company and its partners claim they can significantly reduce the resistance while simultaneously increasing the current that can be transferred.
The technology is still at the experimental stage though and high-volume production of 1-nanometer chips is many years away. TSMC’s current top-of-the-line volume manufacturing process is its 5-nanometre node, while the company has also stated that it will begin risk production of 3-nanometer chips sometime this year.