London, England: An IBM patented self-assembly process finally moves a nanotechnology manufacturing method that had shown promise in laboratories into the commercial manufacturing environment. Thus, predictions show that it will provide the equivalent of two generations of Moore’ s Law wiring performance improvements in a single step, using conventional manufacturing techniques.
The natural pattern-creating process that forms seashells, snowflakes, and enamel on teeth was harnessed by IBO to form trillions of holes to create insulating vacuums around the miles of nanoscale wires packed next to each other inside each chip. Scientists often refer to this new form of insulation as “airgaps.” This actually is a misnomer, as the gaps are actually a vacuum.
The technique creates the vacuum between the copper wires on a computer chip, allowing electrical signals to flow faster while consuming less electrical power. The self-assembly process generates the nanoscale patterning needed to form the gaps. This patterning is much smaller than what’s achievable with current lithographic techniques.
Researchers proved that the electrical signals on chips using this technique flow 35% faster, or the chips can consume 15% less energy, compared to conventional devices.