IBM has applied self-assembling nanotechnology to conventional chip manufacturing, borrowing a process from nature to build the next generation of computer chips.
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The technique produces processors that are smaller, faster and consume less power than conventional chips, said Dan Edelstein, chief scientist on IBM's self-assembly airgap project.
The natural pattern-creating process that forms seashells, snowflakes and tooth enamel has been used by IBM to form trillions of holes to create insulating vacuums around the miles of nano-scale wires inside each computer chip.
IBM said the patented self-assembly process moves a nanotechnology manufacturing method that had shown promise in laboratories into a commercial manufacturing environment for the first time.
The technique causes a vacuum to form between the copper wires on a computer chip, allowing electrical signals to flow faster while consuming less power. The self-assembly process enables the nano-scale patterning required to form the gaps, and this patterning is considerably smaller than current lithographic techniques can achieve.
The process has been integrated with IBM's manufacturing line in East Fishkill, New York, and it is expected to be incorporated into all of IBM's manufacturing lines by 2009.
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