Moore’s Law – “the number of transistors incorporated in a chip will approximately double every 24 months” – has been around now for 50 years. (Look for Intel, and the semiconductor industry, to make a big deal of this, come 2015.) It has stood up pretty well over time, in part because the industry has used it as a goal, and keeping Moore’s Law going pretty much drives R&D across many segments of the computing industry.
There’s been some questions around whether Moore’s Law will continue to be operative as a rule of thumb because of thermal power, and transistor interconnect, constraints.
Then along comes some MIT research – maybe even in anticipation of the Golden Anniversary of Moore’s Law – that suggests that Moore’s Law may not be running out of steam. They believe “that they have found a way to enable semiconductor manufacturers to continue shrinking geometries below 20 nanometer and produce advanced components cost effectively.” (Source: article by Ismini Scouras in EE Times,)
…have developed directed self-assembly (DSA) techniques that they claim resolve the issues associated with the two main lithography techniques used in the semiconductor manufacturing process today — photolithography and electron-beam lithography. Photolithography at 193-nm is reaching its limit with feature sizes around 25-nm. And the throughput in electron-beam lithography, which can produce smaller features, is insufficient for sub-20-nm resolution pattering over large areas.
According to Caroline Ross, who is a professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT,
“Nanoimprint lithography may also be a viable process. Each of these has its own limitations and advantages, but overall DSA is a very attractive option because it provides scalability at high throughput and a lower cost than other processes.”
When I consider of how the processing footprint has decreased during my career, it’s been extraordinary to begin with. To think about it continuing on into the foreseeable future is pretty exciting.
Reminds me of Buzz Lightyear: to infinity and beyond!