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Technical Perspective: Silicon Stress

Moore's Law, which predicts the doubling of transistor density every two years or so, has been the mainstay of the ubiquitous proliferation of semiconductor electronics and the mobile revolution that has changed our lives for the better since the invention of the transistor by Shockley et al. in 1949 and its application to the integrated circuit by Kilby in the 1950s.

For the past several decades, we have been scaling relentlessly using Dennard's constant electric field scaling method and succeeded in making our chips faster, smaller, and cheaper. Implicit in this evolution is the assumption that we can print these circuits in an economical manner. This assumption is now in question as we have reached dimensions that are significantly below the resolution of the light used to print these features. While we have employed tricks to print these sub-wavelength features, they come at a cost that threatens the expectation of lower cost per circuit. In fact, some project an increased cost per function, which of course begs the question: "Why scale any further?"


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