Trade War Looms Over Materials


It’s time to pay close attention to rare earths and raw materials--again. In fact, the supply chain teams and commodity buyers at aerospace, automotive and electronics companies may have some new and potentially big problems on their hands. For some time, the European Union (EU), the United States and other nations have been at odds with China over rare earths. China, which accounts for... » read more

Can Copper Revolutionize Interconnects Again?


Electromigration and resistivity present serious obstacles to interconnect scaling, as previously discussed. In a copper damascene process, grain growth is constrained by the narrow trenches into which copper is deposited. As the grain size approaches the mean free path of electrons in copper, electron scattering at sidewalls and grain boundaries increases and resistivity jumps. Meanwhile, incr... » read more

Manufacturing Bits: July 16


Photon Chips Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Vienna University of Technology have devised an all-optical transistor controlled by a single photon. The optical transistor could enable the development of photonic quantum gates and deterministic multi-photon entanglement. For years, researchers have been looking to develop an optical transistor, whe... » read more

The Threat Within


By Connie Duncan Given that today’s advanced chips can contain billions of transistors, 60 miles of copper wiring and 10 billion vertical connections between metal layers, the challenges and potential pitfalls this level of complexity presents are mind-boggling. One major problem on the horizon at 20nm and below is the threat of voids forming in the vertical interconnects commonly called via... » read more

Flowing Copper


By Richard Lewington If you were to slice up a microchip and take a look (you’d need a really powerful microscope, I'm afraid) you would see what looks like a nanoscale layer cake. All the active circuit elements—transistors, memory cells, etc.—are on the bottom. The other 90% of the chip is a maze of tiny copper wires, which we call interconnects. The history of chip developme... » read more

Capping Tools Tame Electromigration


By Mark LaPedus The shift towards the 28nm node and beyond has put the spotlight back on the interconnect in semiconductor manufacturing. In chip scaling, the big problem in the interconnect is resistance-capacitance (RC). Another, and sometimes forgotten, issue is electromigration. “Electromigration gets worse in device scaling,” said Daniel Edelstein, an IBM Fellow and manager of BE... » read more