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A Big Leap Toward Tinier Lines

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These scanning electron microscope images show the sequence of fabrication of fine lines by the new method.

Scanning electron microscope images show the sequence of fabrication of fine lines by the new method. First, an array of lines is produced by a conventional electron beam process (top). The addition of a block copolymer material and a topcoat result in a quadrupling of the number of lines (center). Then the topcoat is etched away, leaving the new pattern of fine lines exposed (bottom).

Credit: MIT News

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, and Argonne National Laboratory have developed a method that could make it possible to produce some of the narrowest microchip wires ever, using a process with the potential to be economically viable for mass production with standard equipment.

The new approach involves a technique in which polymer thin films are formed on a surface, first by heating precursors so they vaporize, and then by allowing them to condense and polymerize on a cooler surface.

The process integrates three existing methods. First, a pattern of lines is produced on the chip surface using lithographic techniques. A layer of block copolymer is then formed by spin-coating a solution. Finally, a protective polymer layer is deposited on top of the others using initiated chemical vapor deposition.

The new process can create sub-10-nanometer features, compared to about 22-nanometer features with conventional methods.

From MIT News
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