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October 10th, 2009
Present CMOS chip fabrication process can go further down, may be to 10 nm. Even to reach that stage the cost of fab equipment will sky rocket. The best way to go further down is to deviate from optolith process to self aligning nano elements called nanowires or nanotubes. Semiconductor industry is not ready to abruptly dump the litho based equipment for nanowire based process due to cost and strategic reasons. Researchers are working out a smooth transition from the present CMOS to nano-element based by initially combining both methods and use much of the present technologies for some time atleast in moving over to a totally different process.
Silicon, being abundant and most affordable metal will stay during the transition. So the challenge for the nano-technology researchers is to commercialize their Nano technology idea by effectively using present CMOS process, Silicon and its friends.
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