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February 20th, 2006
IBM Research has come up with a way to draw lines in silicon 29.9 nanometers apart with existing chipmaking machines, far closer than on today's chips, a development that could help cut the cost of making chips in the future.
The breakthrough revolves around an enhanced, experimental version of immersion lithography. In immersion lithography, silicon wafers are immersed in purified water. Laser light shining through an intricate mask throws a microscopic shadow pattern onto the wafer, which then becomes permanent through chemical processes similar to the process in which a negative becomes a photographic print. The more intricate the pattern, the smaller the circuits.
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