IBM breakthrough in chip technology : Airgaps

IBM ’s Self assembling nano-technology now allows chips to run 35% faster and changes the conventional chip making technology. This technology can form trillions of holes to create insulating vacuums around the miles of nano-scale wires packed next to each other inside each computer chip, says IBM.Not only this , this technology will make chips which will consume 15% less power than the current used chips. This idea came from natural formation of shells and enamel which creates small vacuum bubbles inside them and make them much stronger .

In the current scenario of making chips the electrical signals were separated from each other by using Carbon silicate glass insulation. Without proper insulation the signals can get mixed or cross each other resulting in unstable chips. The new technology which is termed as “airgap” insulation, which is actually vacuum, for the millions of electrical paths. In scientific terms,vacuum is supposed to be the best insulator against electricity and heat. The heat is generated as the copper wires are very close to each other.

How does this technology works ?

Today, chips are manufactured with copper wiring surrounded by an insulator, which involves using a mask to create circuit patterns by beaming light through the mask and later chemically removing the parts that are not needed.
The new technique to make airgaps by self-assembly skips the masking and light-etching process. Instead IBM scientists discovered the right mix of compounds, which they pour onto a silicon wafer with the wired chip patterns, then bake it.
Once the holes are formed, the carbon silicate glass is removed, creating a vacuum between the wires — known as the airgap — allowing the electrical signals to either flow 35 percent faster, or to consume 15 percent less energy.

This technology is supposed to be implemented by 2009. For further details visit the following links

  • Nature provides a chip off the old shell
  • BM Brings Nature to Computer Chip Manufacturing

Also read:

  • IBM technology to replace conventional hard disk
  • Made in IBM Labs: 10 Chip Breakthroughs in 10 Years