Author's Latest Posts

Revolutionizing Biotechnology

By Joseph Jeong and Tony Chao The Old English alphabet is generally regarded to have been invented around the 5th century. Literacy, however, at that time was mostly a privilege enjoyed by the upper elite class in the Western world. This all changed with the invention of the Gutenberg printing press around 1450, when literacy became democratized and available to laypeople. The printing press r... » read more

Mobility Gets A Boost With Expanded Epi Applications

By Jeremy Zelenko Even as industry moves into the era of the high k metal gate (HKMG) and FinFET transistor, chipmakers continue to seek ways to improve device performance. One of the latest advances and the subject of an Applied Materials announcement made today is to extend epitaxial deposition from PMOS to NMOS transistors. Implementing an NMOS epitaxy (epi) process in addition to the estab... » read more

President Obama Visits Applied Materials

By John Kania [caption id="attachment_8398" align="alignnone" width="518" caption="Applied Materials CEO Mike Splinter with President Barack Obama as they tour the Austin manufacturing clean room and hear from Applied employee Nilam D. Bhakta-Sahib about the complex chip making process. "][/caption] President Obama rode Air Force One into Austin, Texas, to shine a spotlight on the import... » read more

Interconnect Troubles

By Mehul Naik These days, transistor scaling is driving some of the most exciting innovations in device architecture and getting lots of attention as a result. What may be less obvious is the cascading effect transistor scaling is having on the interconnect. The biggest challenges result directly from pitch reduction required to support the increasing functionality. These include poor pattern ... » read more

Interconnect Performance In The Spotlight

By Richard Lewington Are you going to be in the San Francisco area on December 11th? We're hosting a forum to explore the path that interconnect technology must take to keep pace with transistor scaling and the transition to new 3D architectures. Transistors get all the attention these days as the savior of Moore's Law. But there's no point making transistors faster if the wires between ... » read more

Epitaxy: Seeking Crystalline Perfection

By Richard Lewington Epitaxy is one of the fundamental processes used to make all kinds of semiconductor devices: LEDs, power electronics and, of course, microchips. The term epitaxy means, roughly speaking, “adding order” and that’s exactly what it does. Hot gases react on a surface to “grow” a layer that precisely matches the underlying crystal structure. Epitaxy was first us... » read more

The Rolling Stones Of Chipmaking

By Cheryl Knepfler In 1993, when the Internet was mostly a science experiment, Applied shipped a new P5000 CVD system to the Motorola SPS (now Freescale) Oak Hill fab in Austin, Texas— where it was used to produce processors for Apple computers. A year later, Motorola installed its second P5000 system. Fast forward 20 years and you’ll find both tools on the production line and still runnin... » 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