IBM announces path for extending chip technique

Feb. 20, 2006 – IBM researchers announced they have found a way to extend a key chip-manufacturing process to generate smaller chip circuits.

IBM scientists said they have created small, high-quality line patterns using deep-ultraviolet optical lithography.

The distinct and uniformly spaced ridges are only 29.9 nanometers wide, less than one-third the size of the 90-nanometer features now in mass production and below the 32 nanometers that industry consensus held as the limit for optical lithography techniques.

The company says its new result indicates that a “high-index immersion” variant of deep-ultraviolet lithography may provide a path for extending Moore’s Law further, thus buying the industry time.

“Our goal is to push optical lithography as far as we can so the industry does not have to move to any expensive alternatives until absolutely necessary,” said Robert Allen, manager of lithography materials at IBM’s Almaden Research Center, in a prepared statement.

The pattern of well-defined and equally-spaced 29.9-nanometer lines and spaces was created on a lithography test apparatus designed and built at IBM Almaden, using new materials developed by its collaborator, JSR Micro of Sunnyvale, Calif.

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