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Researchers from MIT and Chicago making denser chips with wires that partially build themselves. Faster technology requires better and faster microchips (Image via MIT)


As technology, such as computers, get faster and better, they require microchips that can keep up. The only problem is it’s becoming more difficult to create denser chips. Not only does it make the chips more fragile, but manufacturers also run into several limitations, like wavelengths of light used to create wire patterns. A team of researchers from MIT and Chicago may have overcome this challenge with their new, self-assembling chip.


This new method makes finer wires for chips by letting them partly build themselves, instead of using deliberate and slow ultraviolent or scanning processes. To make their chip, the team start with using an electron beam to make patterns on a chip. From there, they use a mix of two polymers, called a block copolymer, that separate into patterns naturally. The block copolymer contains chain-like molecules that each have two different polymer materials connected end-to-end.


Once the protective polymer coating is placed on top of the other polymers, it fires up the chemical vapor deposition (iCVD) process. This forces them to build themselves in a vertical manner that results in four wires. Generally, there would only be one. Each of the produced wires is a fourth as wide resulting in finer lines. Since the top polymer layer can be patterned, the method can produced any kind of complex patterning needed for the interconnections of a chip.


These results show promise when compared to standard methods of making chips. Not only does the method rely on extreme ultraviolent light, but it’s also expensive and a very slow process, which isn’t effective when making chips on a mass scale. This new method would not only cut down on time but on cost as well.


It might be a while before this method becomes the norm, but researchers predict it should be an easy transition. Current microchip manufactures still using the lithographic method don’t even have to change their machines to use the new method. It’s as simple as adding the coating in their current process. This would allow them to make denser chips without changing their current technology. With this new breakthrough, we don’t have to worry our technology is changing at such a fast pace, that other parts can’t keep up.


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