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 that will consume 15% less power than the currently used chips. This idea came from the natural formation of shells and enamel, which creates small vacuum bubbles inside them and makes them much stronger.

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

How does the Airgaps technology work?

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 poured onto a silicon wafer with the wired chip patterns, then baked 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 the conventional hard disk
  • Made in IBM Labs: 10 Chip Breakthroughs in 10 Years


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here