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April 27th, 2007
Figuring out a way to make semiconductors make themselves would certainly save everyone a lot of time and money, and IBM next week says it will discuss a technique that moves it closer to the goal of self-assembly.
On May 3, researchers will provide some details on what IBM says is a commercially practical technique for applying an insulating layer through chips using self-assembly. Now, adding layers and structures to a chip requires costly and time consuming processes: intricate patterns are etched onto microscopic surfaces, sprayed with metals, and then with chemicals to remove excess metal particles.
In self-assembly, physical, chemical and/or biological forces do the heavy lifting. Cambrios Technologies, for instance, has come up with a microorganism that lets chip makers add an insulating layer of cobalt into semiconductors by simply dipping the wafer into solutions. One end of the organism attaches to copper and the other to cobalt. By dipping a wafer etched with copper circuits into a vat of the microbes, and then dipping it into a solution containing cobalt, the layer is applied.
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