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February 12, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:48pm


By CBR Staff Writer

A refinement to today’s semiconductor process technology could improve the performance of microprocessors fourfold, its developer, Plasma & Materials Technologies Inc, Chatsworth, California believes. The technique, which improves the dielectric constant of the insulation between features on a chip to under 2.0 compared with about 3.5 for the best insulators used today, is currently being tested by chipmakers, and is expected to be applied in production parts next year. Insulation is typically laid on interconnections on today’s chips by applying gases containing silicon dioxide, which harden on the unprotected parts of the chip under heating. The approach, which has been perfected over four years by Plasma & Materials Technologies under the name Flowfill, applies the insulation as a liquid rather than as a gas, and improves the dielectric constant by adding a tiny amount of carbon, so more power can be transmitted over the interconnects without the insulation breaking down – the more power you can apply, the faster the chip will operate.

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