Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a new technique for using block copolymers and mesh structures to find new ways to build processors for memory and optical chips, and possibly processors for computers.
The new technique involves using block copolymers that can spontaneously self-assemble into specific shapes, a process that could be used to build future chips.
"We use the first layer of block copolymer as a template to self-assemble another layer of block copolymer on top of it," says MIT researcher Amir Tavakkoli.
The researchers used two polymers, one carbon-based and the other silicon-based; in an attempt to move away from the carbon-based polymers, the silicon-based polymers folded in on themselves, creating cylinders with loops of silicon-based polymer on the inside and carbon-based polymer on the outside. The researchers exposed the cylinder to oxygen plasma, causing the carbon-based polymer to burn away and the silicon to oxidize, leaving glass-like cylinders attached to a base. The researchers created a second layer of cylinders by repeating the process using copolymers with slightly different chain lengths so they would naturally orient themselves perpendicularly to those in the first, creating a mesh structure.
The glass-like wires by themselves cannot be used directly for electronic applications, but they could be combined with other molecules that make them electronically active, according to the researchers.
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