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Melting defects could lead to smaller, more powerful microchips
Date:5/4/2008

tion of a millionth of a second, because molten metal and semiconductors can flow as easily as water and have high surface tension, which allows them to change shapes very quickly.

To overcome the second obstacle, Chou's team placed a plate on top of the melting structures to guide the flow of liquid. The plate prevents a molten structure from widening, and keeps its top flat and sides vertical, Chou said. In one experiment, it made the edges of 70 nanometer-wide chromium lines more than five times smoother. The resulting line smoothness was far more precise than what semiconductor researchers believe to be attainable with existing technology.

The conventional approach to fixing chip defects is to measure the exact shape of each defect, and provide a correction precisely tailored to it -- a slow and expensive process, Chou said. In contrast, Chou's guided melting process fixes all defects on a chip in a single quick and inexpensive step. "Regardless of the shape of each defect, it always gets fixed precisely and with no need for individual shape measurement or tailored correction," Chou said.

One of the big surprises from this work is observed when the guiding plate is placed not in direct contact with the molten structures, but at a distance above it. In this situation, the liquid material from the structures rises up and reaches the plate by itself, causing line structures to become taller and narrower -- both highly desirable outcomes from a chip design perspective.

"The authors demonstrate improved edge roughness and dramatically altered aspect ratios in nanoscale features," said Donald Tennant, director of operations at the NanoScale Science and Technology Facility at Cornell University. The techniques "may be a way forward when nanofabricators bump up against the limits of lithography and pattern transfer," he said.

Next, Chou's group plans to demonstrate this technique on large (8-inch) wafers. Several leading sem
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Contact: Steven Schultz
sschultz@princeton.edu
609-258-3617
Princeton University, Engineering School
Source:Eurekalert  

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