Menu
Discovery may lead to faster, more powerful processors

Discovery may lead to faster, more powerful processors

Welcome to Self-Perfection by Liquefaction

Researchers at Princeton University this week reported that they have found a way to literally melt away miniscule defects in computer chips, a discovery that could help manufacturers build more powerful processors.

As chips get smaller and smaller, tiny defects in shapes, lines and dots that are etched into them can ruin performance. If the nanostructures aren't straight, thin and tall in integrated circuits, for example, it could cause current leakage and voltage fluctuation.

"These chip defects pose serious roadblocks to future advances in many industries," said Stephen Chou, Princeton's Joseph C. Elgin Professor of Engineering, in a statement. Chou worked with graduate student Qiangfei Xia on the research project.

By getting rid of the tiny flaws, chip makers could create even smaller and more powerful processors, which, in turn, could mean smaller and more powerful devices.

Chou and Xia's effort did not focus on finding ways to create chips with no flaws, but on ways to automatically erasing existing ones. The process, which the inventors call Self-Perfection by Liquefaction, is designed to melt the structures on the chip in a fraction of a millionth of a second -- just long enough for the resulting flow of liquid to be guided so it re-solidifies into the proper shapes, according to a university document.

The researchers use a pulse of light from a laser similar to the ones used in laser eye surgery, because it heats only a thin top layer of the flawed structures, which are made of semiconductors and metals, and causes no damage to whatever is beneath it. They designed the pulse so it melts only semiconductor and metal materials and leaves other parts of the chip untouched, the university reported.

Chou also noted that he placed a thin quartz plate on top of the melting structures to guide the liquid flow. The plate prevents the molten structure from widening, while keeping its top flat and sides vertical. In one experiment, it made the edges of 70 nanometer-wide chromium lines more than five times smoother, according to Chou.

"We are able to achieve a precision and improvement far beyond what was previously thought achievable," said Chou. "What we propose... is a paradigm shift. Rather than struggle to improve fabrication methods, we could simply fix the defects after fabrication. And fixing the defects could be automatic -- a process of self-perfection."

The next step for the Princeton researchers will be to try out this new technique on 8-in. wafers, the university reported.

The research was published in the May 4 issue of Nature Nanotechnology.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Reseller News honoured the leading female front runners of the New Zealand channel at the 2018 Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) in Auckland. The awards honoured standout individuals across seven categories, spanning Entrepreneur; Innovation; Rising Star; Shining Star; Community; Technical and Achievement.

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel
Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Microsoft honoured leading partners across the channel following a year of customer innovation and market growth in New Zealand. The 2018 Microsoft Partner Awards recognised excellence within the context of the end-user, spanning a host of emerging and established providers.

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners
Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Introducing the Reseller News Innovation Awards, launched to the channel at the 2018 Judges’ Lunch in Auckland. With more than 70 judges now part of the voting panel, the new-look awards will reflect the changing dynamics of the channel, recognising excellence across customer value and innovation - spanning start-ups, partners, distributors and vendors.

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch
Show Comments