A key component in the transistors in integrated circuits is an insulating layer that separates the gate, which turns current flow on and off, from the channel through which the current flows. Traditionally, semiconductor manufacturers have used silicon dioxide for this purpose. As transistors have shrunk, however, they have been forced to make this layer thinner and thinner until they reached the point where electrons leak through and sap the power from the device. This has led semiconductor manufacturers to retool their process to use "high-k" dielectric materials, such as hafnium oxide, because they have much higher electrical resistance.
"We have made high-k nanoparticle films that could be cheaper and more effective than the high-k materials the manufacturers are currently using," Dickerson says.
In addition, the physicist argues that the films have properties that make them ideal for flexible television and computer screens. They are very flexible and don't show any signs of cracking when they are flexed repeatedly. They are also made using a technique called electrophoretic deposition (EPD) that is well suited for creating patterned material and is compatible with fluorescent materials that can form the red, green and blue pixels used in flat panel television screens and computer displays.
EDP is a wet method. Nanoparticles are placed in a solution along with a pair of electrodes. When an electric current is applied, it creates an electrical field in the liquid that attracts the nanoparticles, which coat the electrodes. Using colloids, mixtures with particles 10 to 1,000 times larger than nanoparticles, EDP is widely used to apply coatings to complex metal parts such as automobile bodies, prosthetic devic
|Contact: David F. Salisbury|