Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NIST Team Reports Method to Characterize New Insulating Materials for Microelectronics

27.08.2002


Advance Should Speed Semiconductor Industry Search



Researchers from the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reported today they have developed methods for characterizing key structural features of porous films being eyed as insulators for the ultrathin metal wires that will connect millions of devices on future microprocessors and increase processor speed. The advance, reported today at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in Boston, will help semiconductor manufacturers and their materials suppliers home in on the most promising "nanoporous film" candidates for shielding miles of interconnecting wire on next-generation microprocessors.

Microprocessors, or central processing units, are both the "brains" and "engines" of computers and other microelectronic devices.


To increase processor speed, semiconductor manufacturers seek to reduce chip sizes. However, size reduction introduces problems with electrical interference between circuit elements ("cross-talk"), motivating development of better insulating materials. Current insulating materials such as silicon dioxide and fluorinated silicate glass (FSG) are approaching their limits as devices are squeezed ever closer on a chip.

To prepare better insulating films, many materials suppliers are developing films interspersed with very small holes that measure about 5 nanometers (billionths of a meter) in diameter or less. Introducing nanometer-sized air bubbles lowers a material’s dielectric constant, or "k" value-a measure of insulating performance. Air, the ideal insulator, has a dielectric constant of 1. Silicon dioxide and FSG, in contrast, have values of about 4.2 and 3.7, respectively.

For several years, the NIST team has been performing a variety of measurements to help the semiconductor industry characterize potential nanoporous insulators. Working with the NIST Center for Neutron Research, materials scientists Ronald Hedden, Barry Bauer, and Hae-Jeong Lee of the NIST Polymers Division developed a neutron scattering technique for surveying minuscule holes in film samples supplied by International SEMATECH, the consortium of chipmakers. Combined with information gathered with other methods, neutron scattering measurements reveal the size and volume fraction of pores, the connectivity among pores and the density of the underlying matrix.

The "Swiss cheese" approach to developing new insulators presents some formidable challenges. To be sure, riddling a material with tiny holes (or bubbles) lowers its "k" value, but changes other important properties as well. Also to be taken into account, for example, are a candidate material’s strength and hardness, how well it adheres to different substrates, and whether it can withstand high temperatures and etch chemicals during processing.

"An ideal replacement for silicon dioxide would provide the desired level of insulation without compromising barrier properties," explains Bauer. "The more fully we can characterize the pore structure and properties of these nanoporous materials, the more straightforward the search becomes."

Bauer, Hedden and Lee led an effort to extend contrast matching-a neutron-based technique for studying bulk materials-to nanoporous thin films. They succeeded by pumping solvent vapor mixtures into a special flow-through chamber containing the films. The vapor condenses into the pores, permitting neutron scattering measurements that probe the film density while yielding valuable information about pore connectivity. The new neutron technique also can detect nanometer-sized inhomogeneities in the composition of the matrix.

Though the results are promising, the contrast-matching procedure is time-consuming, taking three to four days per sample. One goal of the team is to develop a simpler alternative that industry could use to character films faster and more cheaply. Hedden says neutron scattering measurements could be used as a benchmark to evaluate data gathered with other approaches.

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Technology Administration, NIST develops and promotes measurements, standards and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade and improve the quality of life. For more information on NIST, visit www.nist.gov.

Mark Bello | EurekAlert!

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht The world's most powerful acoustic tractor beam could pave the way for levitating humans
22.01.2018 | University of Bristol

nachricht Siberian scientists learned how to reduce harmful emissions from HPPs
22.01.2018 | Siberian Federal University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multifunctional Platform for the Delivery of Gene Therapeutics

22.01.2018 | Life Sciences

The world's most powerful acoustic tractor beam could pave the way for levitating humans

22.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Siberian scientists learned how to reduce harmful emissions from HPPs

22.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>