Three-dimensional rolled-up inductors have a footprint more than 100 times smaller without sacrificing performance. The researchers published their new design paradigm in the journal Nano Letters.
Photo by Xiuling Li
Illinois researchers developed a new design paradigm for inductors. Processed while flat, they then roll up on their own, taking up much less space on a chip.
“It’s a new concept for old technology,” said team leader Xiuling Li, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois.
Inductors, often seen as the sprawling metal spirals on computer chips, are essential components of integrated circuits. They store magnetic energy, acting as a buffer against changes in current and modulating frequency – especially important in radio-frequency wireless devices. However, they take up a lot of space. Inductance depends on the number of coils in the spiral, so engineers cannot make them smaller without losing performance.
In addition, the larger the area the inductor occupies, the more it interfaces with the substrate the chip is built on, exacerbating a hindering effect called parasitic capacitance. Researchers have developed some three-dimensional inductor structures to solve the dual problems of space and parasitic capacitance, but these methods are complex and use techniques that are difficult to scale up to manufacturing levels.
The new inductor design uses techniques Li’s group previously developed for making thin films of silicon nitrate, merely tens of nanometers in thickness, that roll themselves up into tubes. The research team used industry-standard two-dimensional processing to pattern metal lines on the film before rolling, creating a spiral inductor.
“We’re making 3-D structures with 2-D processing,” Li said. “Instead of spreading this out in a large area to increase inductance, we can have the same inductance but packed into a much smaller area.”
Using the self-rolling technique, the researchers can shrink the area needed for a radio-frequency inductor to a scant 45 microns by 16 microns – more than 100 times smaller than the area an equivalent flat spiral would require.
The design can be adjusted to fit target parameters including metal thickness and type, frequency, tube diameter and number of turns. According to Li, this technique could be used for capacitors and other integrated circuit elements as well.
Now, Li’s group is working to produce high-performance inductor prototypes, in collaboration with electrical and engineering professor Jose Schutt-Aine. Preliminary experimental data show strong correlation with the modeled designs.
“Once we have optimized this process, we should be able to make an integrated circuit with a completely different platform that could be much smaller,” Li said. “It’s an ambitious goal.”
The National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research supported this work. U. of I. visiting researcher Wen Huang, postdoctoral researcher Xin Yu, graduate student Paul Froeter and mechanical science and engineering professor Placid Ferreira were co-authors of this study. Li also is affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, the Micro and Nanotechnology Lab, and the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Lab, all at the U. of I.
Liz Ahlberg | EurekAlert!
Engineer Improves Rechargeable Batteries with MoS2 Nano 'Sandwich'
17.04.2015 | Kansas State University
Packing Heat: New Fluid Makes Untapped Geothermal Energy Cleaner
17.04.2015 | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Konstanz are working on storing and processing information on the level of single molecules to create the smallest possible components that will combine autonomously to form a circuit. As recently reported in the academic journal Advanced Science, the researchers can switch on the current flow through a single molecule for the first time with the help of light.
Dr. Artur Erbe, physicist at the HZDR, is convinced that in the future molecular electronics will open the door for novel and increasingly smaller – while also...
Cells of the vascular system of vertebrates can fuse with themselves. This process, which occurs when a blood vessel is no longer necessary and pruned, has now been described on the cellular level by Prof. Markus Affolter from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. The findings of this study have been published in the journal “PLoS Biology”.
The vascular system is the supply network of the human organism and delivers oxygen and nutrients to the last corners of the body. So far, research on the...
Astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology have used the giant telescope Alma to reveal an extremely powerful magnetic field very close to a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy
Astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology have used the giant telescope Alma to reveal an extremely powerful magnetic field very close to a...
A team of physicists from MPQ, Caltech, and ICFO proposes the combination of nano-photonics with ultracold atoms for simulating quantum many-body systems and creating new states of matter.
Ultracold atoms in the so-called optical lattices, that are generated by crosswise superposition of laser beams, have been proven to be one of the most...
According to new research out of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, that is indeed the case. Chetan Jinadatha, M.D., M.P.H., assistant...
13.04.2015 | Event News
25.03.2015 | Event News
19.03.2015 | Event News
20.04.2015 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2015 | Architecture and Construction
20.04.2015 | Physics and Astronomy