Scientists at Stanford School of Engineering believe they have devised a method to speed up data transport in semiconductors by as much as 30 percent in the future.
While a typical semiconductor has millions of transistors connected by tiny copper wires, it’s the sheath that has given the Stanford scientists inspiration.
They said that tantalum nitride has been used to sheath the copper wires within chips.
But experiments show that if graphene is used as a sheath, electrons can fly through the copper wires faster.
The sheath over the tiny copper wires prevents them from interacting with the silicon and also conducts electricity.
But the Stanford team shows that a graphene layer would be eight times thinner than one made from tantalum nitride. But using graphene as a layer can also act as an auxiliary conductor of electrons as well as isolating the copper from the silicon.
But while the method holds promise, there are still hurdles to adopting graphene to this purpose. That would include methods to grow graphene directly onto the wires during mass production.
E-beam lithography has promised a way out of the challenges of producing chips but its speed has prevented it being used as a mass production technique.
But now researchers at MIT say they a new approach to the technique may get the resolution of highspeed e-beam lithography down to as little as nine nanometers, coupled with an increase in speed.
Manufacturers like Intel are turning to extreme ultraviolet as a way of maintaining Moore’s Law but that has its drawbacks too, according to Vitor Manfrinato, author of the MIT paper. Extreme ultraviolet makes for inefficient light sources and much more complicated systems.
Manfrinato and other scientists believe that there are a few tricks that can be implemented for e-beam lithography. They are testing a thin resist layer to lower electron scattering and also using a solution of table salt to develop the resist for regions that have slightly more electrons.
The paper explaining the technique they’re pioneering is here.