IBM researchers have developed a new way to rapidly manufacture three-dimensional transistors, which are used in high-end integrated circuits due to their faster switching ability and low power consumption.
Typically such circuits are made using photolithography, but IBM's group used an approach known as directed self-assembly, which involves synthesizing molecules so they automatically assemble into complex structures.
The researchers used a class of materials called block copolymers whose length, size, and other characteristics are altered, like changing how two blocks attract and repel each another. Patterns made in this way can be much denser than what is possible using lithography, indicating this approach can be used to create the smallest, most densely packed, and uniform parts of an integrated circuit. The remaining portion of the circuit would still be formed using conventional methods.
The researchers used existing photolithography methods to prepattern a photoresist coating to form a series of deep, parallel trenches. The trenches then help direct the assembly of block copolymers, which are arranged in patterns required to etch transistor fins that are smaller and more densely packed together than is possible solely with photolithography. The resulting devices had features as close together as 29 nanometers, compared to the 80 nanometers that is currently possible.
From Technology Review
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