Nano-Patterning and Nano-Lithography

The guiding principle of the microelectronics industry, Moore’s Law, which is an empirical observation that the density and speed of integrated circuit technology doubles every 18-24 months, must come to an end as the size of circuitry features approaches atomic scale. But there is still some mileage, and a lot to be gained, as the industry pursues the Moore’s Law trajectory, from the current efforts at 22 nanometer features, to the ultimate end in a decade or so at 8 to 10 nanometers. New technologies for creating patterns, that is, for writing the wiring patterns of integrated ciruits, are needed; Paul Nealey and Juan de Pablo of IME have developed and are driving continual improvement in one of the industry-recognized leading technologies: directed self-assembly (DSA).

Self-assembly is a process used by biology to organize the structural components of life itself, and refers to the ability of materials, especially organic and bio-inspired materials to create organized structures spontaneously based on information encoded in the molecules of the material. The vision is that much of the hard work involved in the production of ultra-small nanostructures could be carried out by the molecules themselves, based on information encoded into the molecular architecture, thereby reducing costs and enabling manufacture of new generations of electronic and memory devices.

Positioned at the forefront of this technology, IME is bringing new methods into practice. Outfitting a state-of-the-art cleanroom fabrication facility in the new William Eckhardt Research Center will be a key element of our capabilities, as is the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory.

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