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Posted: June 16, 2008
More IBM Nanotechnology Action Out Of India
(Nanowerk News) Small is getting big at IBM. The nanotechnology stream at IBM India is working on a slew of next-generation electronic devices.
IBM is working on a range of topics in nanotechnology that could foster faster work using lesser power.
In India, IBM's System and Technology Engineering Lab (ISTEL) is working on semiconductor research, nanotechnology research and VLSI designs with an intention to reduce power consumption and create environmental-friendly semiconductor products, according to Pamela Kumar, director (Systems and Technology Engineering), India Software Lab, IBM.
She cites CMOS Technology, Carbon nanotubes, Atom and molecular computing and 45nm chips using immersion lithography as a glimpse of the size that nanotechnology is increasingly occupying here.
"We are working on extending the range of present day CMOS technologies all the way down to 32nm feature size and beyond. These devices use a novel class of high-K/metal gate materials, which would help continue scaling of the CMOS transistor, thereby increasing the speed of the devices on chip besides reducing the operating power. The present day 32nm technology circuits have been assessed to lead to a power savings of over 35 per cent over their predecessors at the 45nm node. Also, in the area of atom and molecular computing, IBM researchers have been able to create single molecule switches that form the building blocks for molecular computing," she says, adding that these molecular and atom scale devices could lead to ultra-high density and speed chips using ultra-low power.
Work in the sphere of 45nm chips using immersion lithography consists of immersion litho being used for obtaining Hyper NA (numerical aperture) performance on the scanner-lenses.
"A higher NA can give rise to higher resolution needed for printing smaller features. Using water as the coupling medium has been able to stretch the NA to 1.35 as of today which has made it possible to print the tiny features of 45 nm and 32 nm technologies," explains Kumar.
In case of Carbon nanotubes, IBM claims to have built the world's first complete integrated circuits around a single carbon nanotube. Carbon nanotubes are a few nanometers in diameter, but their unique properties allow them to carry much higher current densities than conventional silicon, higher temperature stability, and tensile strength making them a contender for next generation device material.
There is an additional work underway in the area of air gaps as ultra-low-K dielectrics.
"With the technology nodes going smaller, the RC delay in the circuits has become more important than gate delay. To keep this at bay and enhance the performance, Copper had replaced conventional Al for 130 and smaller nodes. Later on the conventional dielectric (oxide) had to be replaced with lower K materials. With further shrinkage, the need for ultra low k materials was warranted resulting in the development of various porous materials," she says.
In recent past IBM developed the technique of using Air gaps that has the potential to give the ultimate low k performance, which is greatly instrumental in improving the speeds.
This and upcoming research action and focus reflect IBM's growing inclination towards energy-oriented products.
There is also some space given to Solar Energy wherein IBM claims to have pioneered a novel semiconductor wafer reclamation process to repurpose scrap semiconductor wafers into manufacturable material for silicon-based solar panels.