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New study reveals challenge facing designers of future computer chips
Date:11/6/2012

ponents of a device.

On the experimental side of the research, Prof. Grtter's lab used advanced microscopy techniques to image a tungsten probe and gold surface with atomic precision, and to bring them together mechanically in a precisely-controlled manner. The electrical current through the resulting contact was much lower than expected. Mechanical modeling of the atomic structure of this contact was done in collaboration with Yue Qi, a research scientist with the General Motors R&D Center in Warren, MI.

State-of-the-art electrical modeling by Jesse Maassen in professor Hong Guo's McGill Physics research group confirmed this result, showing that dissimilarities in electronic structure between the two metals leads to a fourfold decrease in current flow, even for a perfect interface. The researchers additionally found that crystal defects - displacements of the normally perfect arrangement of atoms -- generated by bringing the two materials into mechanical contact was a further reason for the observed reduction of the current.

"The size of that drop is far greater than most experts would expect - on the order of 10 times greater," notes Prof. Grtter.

The results point to a need for future research into ways to surmount this challenge, possibly through choice of materials or other processing techniques. "The first step toward finding a solution is being aware of the problem," Grtter notes. "This is the first time that it has been demonstrated that this is a major problem" for nanoelectronic systems."


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Contact: Chris Chipello
christopher.chipello@mcgill.ca
514-398-4201
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

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