University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) researchers have developed new nanoscale structures that will help to speed up computers. This research project was funded by IBM, Intel and other partners including the U.S. National Science Foundation. This new manufacturing process is called block co-polymer lithography (or BCP). The scientists ‘have created a way to make square, nanoscale, chemical patterns — from the bottom up — that may be used in the manufacture of integrated circuit chips.
This new process for creating features on silicon wafers that are between five and 20 nanometers thick has been developed by a multidisciplinary team led by Craig Hawker, materials professor and director of the Materials Research Laboratory at UCSB and the members of his research group.
It’s almost obvious that we will need more powerful microprocessors that use less energy in the future. One of the ways that microprocessors are made is by using a top-down technique called photolithography, which involves shining light onto the surface of a silicon wafer, and making patterns. Since the size of the wavelength of light is becoming a limiting factor, a new way of creating smaller patterns has been invented.
This new process has been designed to be compatible with current manufacturing techniques, so semiconductor manufacturers could use it without losing their previous investments.