New Nanotech Collaboration Boosts Semiconductor Efficiency

Nanocrystals help create an innovative spin-on hardmask to add new value to the industry.

Moore's law maintains that the number of transistors able to fit on a single chip will double every two years. At this point in our technological evolution, it sometimes seems impossible that we will be able to keep up with this constant rate of innovation. However, a recently announced nanotech solution to the spin-on hardmask process promises to pick up the pace and bring new value to the semiconductor industry.

The new solution brings together advanced nanocrystal and microelectronic coating technologies to create a next generation spin-on hardmask for semiconductor lithography. The result is a hardmask that improves the process window, reduces line collapse, improves etch selectivity and offers broad resist compatibility.

"In accordance to Moore's law, this increases the value of each wafer and allows each to hold more features," said Craig Bandes, CEO of Pixelligent Technologies. "This improves performance and yield, which helps manufacturers of semiconductors improve performance."

This new technology combines the nanocrystal experience of Maryland-based Pixelligent Technologies with the polymer technologies of Missouri-based Brewer Science. Armed with an $8 million Technology Innovation Program award from the National Institute of Science and Technology, the two companies worked together intensively for two years to create the new process.

"We have worked very closely with Pixelligent over the past two years and have been impressed by their ... capability for producing two to five nanometer diameter, high purity metal oxide nanocrystals that are stably dispersed in organic media, " said Tony Flaim, CTO of Brewer Science. Their... manufacturing process reliably yields a narrow particle size distribution that is critical for the performance of our new spin-on hardmask product."

The result of this collaboration, the companies said, was worth the effort.

The combined resources of Pixelligent and Brewer Science will help the semiconductor industry reach new heights in productivity, said Bandes. "We have combined improving process and improving yield," he said. The stability created by the hardmask will allow manufacturers to take more control over the process than they have today.

The result of this is "dramatically improved etch performance," which adds new value to each wafer, said Bandes. "I am confident that the semiconductor industry will quickly realize the tremendous value this next generation of hardmask offers."

According to Bandes, this development marks a new stage in the advancement of nanotechnology solutions.

People have been waiting for a nanotech revolution for a long time, he said. "They ask, 'Is it real yet?' The answer is, yes it is real... and it's here."

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