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Melting Microchip Defects May Extend Moore's Law

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the moore-the-merrier dept.

Hardware 99

schliz lets us know about research out of Princeton on melting away defects on microchips using a laser. The new technique, termed Self-Perfection by Liquefaction (SPEL), was published in the May 4 issue of Nature Nanotechnology. Researchers have traditionally approached chip defects by trying to improve the microchip fabrication process, but this eventually reaches fundamental physical limits to do with random behavior of electrons and photons. By focussing on fixing defects, the new method enables more precise shaping of microchip components, and engineers expect to dramatically improve chip quality without increasing fabrication cost. The before-and-after images are remarkable. Here's a diagram of how the process works.

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99 comments

Before and after pics (4, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310486)

Whew yeah, those are amazing. World-changing, even.

What am I looking at?

read the article (4, Informative)

emj (15659) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310544)

Re:read the article (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310670)

He should have known what he was looking at just from the summary, but I agree that people should RTFA before they ask silly questions.

It's really quite an impressive difference, the before and after shots.

Re:read the article (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311368)

There's an obligatory, "you must be new here" to tack on to that, but it seems the hackneyed old memes are finally growing annoying.

It really never ceases to amaze me how much silicon wants to form into neat geometric shapes. Please don't tell the creationists about this one.

Re:read the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23312472)

How the hell did this get modded "informative"?

Re:Before and after pics (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310558)

Just RTFA please, there is bigger image there.

Re:Before and after pics (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310590)

I think you may be missing the subtle sarcasm and passing commentary on the quality of Slashdot editors...

Re:Before and after pics (2, Funny)

emj (15659) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310616)

maybe they wanted to save the host some bandwidth.

Re:Before and after pics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23310674)

maybe they wanted to save the host some bandwidth.
Then why link to the pictures at all with a tag "The pictures are remarkable", making it the first thing people click on? Without that tag, we'd have 50 comments before anyone even tried to read the article....

Re:Before and after pics (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310678)

It was clearly too subtle. I believe slashdot editors are just someone who clicks "submit" button and sometimes add line of text trying to be witty.

Re:Before and after pics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23311048)

Subby's link works now -- Princeton put a larger pic there to be nice to /.ers.

Re:Before and after pics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23310562)

4 square, grayish blurs.

Re:Before and after pics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23314284)

Well, obviously, it's pictures of Self Perfection by Liquefaction (SPEL).

Incidentally, I tried this very same technique on myself this past weekend and the results were not that good.

Sharks (3, Funny)

adpsimpson (956630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310490)

Where do the frikin' sharks come in to it?

Re:Sharks (3, Funny)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310602)

Yeah, giving robots lasers that they can use to repair computer chips.. what could go wrong.

Re:Sharks (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310622)

They might reply to early posts with short, superficially witty comments to advertise their websites!

Before and after image resolution. (1)

zig007 (1097227) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310500)

Is that image in actual size or what?
162*169?
Very strange indeed.

Re:Before and after image resolution. (1)

DieByWire (744043) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310560)

Is that image in actual size or what? 162*169? Very strange indeed.

The pictures show up larger in the linked article.

Re:Before and after image resolution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23310570)

Remove -sm from the filename. Anti-slashdotting I suppose.

Re:Before and after image resolution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23310600)

No -- it's for "small." It's the thumbnail -- subby linked the wrong image.

Re:Before and after image resolution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23310586)

Bad linking by the submitter, it seems.

Try this (Coral cache, so as to not slashkill the site):

http://www.princeton.edu.nyud.net/pr/pictures/a-f/chou/Chou_micrographs.jpg

Re:Before and after image resolution. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23310922)

It WAS the thumbnail -- all better now. Princeton's Web team swapped the file to make the link work.

Not really fixing... (4, Insightful)

emj (15659) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310598)

I was imagining a laser doing touchups on really bad places of the chip to remove shortcircuits and stuff like that. But this seems like another step in the process of making chips.

A bit like drying pulp to get paper.

Re:Not really fixing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23312440)

So-so analogy.

Really it just looks like we're getting tighter tolerances in the fabrication process. This should enable them to improve fabrication debugging practices.

This may not look like much of an advance, but things like this will pave the way for single digit nm circuits and the like.

If you can push some of the precision required for chip-making to post-lithography production, you now have higher level of Q/A in the fab. process.

Anonymous Coward (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23310604)

Scientists really need to stop using lasers to fix microchips and start using them for something practical.

For instance, death rays.

Re:Anonymous Coward (4, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311494)

Scientists really need to stop using lasers to fix microchips and start using them for something practical.
Popcorn?

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23312520)

Scientists really need to stop using lasers to fix microchips and start using them for something practical.
Popcorn?
Everybody wants to rules the world, but can you hammer a six inch spike through a board with your penis?

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23312632)

Tremendous movie! :-D

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

NotPeteMcCabe (833508) | more than 5 years ago | (#23315326)

Possible peacetime uses of military technology (from Laurie Anderson's "Home of the Brave," from memory)

1. Jump starting your pickup truck from outer space

2. Lighting your girlfriend's cigarette with lasers from orbiting space stations

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#23315912)

Careful with that last one. One little miscalculation and boom! No more girlfriend.

Of course, since this is Slashdot, we can probably assume the girlfriend didn't exist before the laser blast, either.... :-)

Misleading title? (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310612)

The described process seems to bring essentially correct structures into a more regular shape by melting them and letting surface tension do the rest.

I doubt it could fix a "real" defect, like two neighboring structures that were fused by accident during manufacturing.

Re:Misleading title? (3, Informative)

teslar (706653) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310824)

I doubt it could fix a "real" defect
Irregular shapes are a "real" defect. From the first paragraph of TFA:

even tiny defects in the lines, dots and other shapes etched on them become major barriers to performance

Re:Misleading title? (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311178)

Performance? So the chip would fall into a lower speed category but still be usable.
I define "real" defects as "does not work at all".

Re:Misleading title? (4, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311252)

Then you're much more forgiving than most people.

If a chip is designed to run at a certain speed, but manufacturing flaws make it run slower, then it a very real sense the chip didn't work. The fact that it still is possible to use the chip for some things doesn't mean that it's not broken.

I once rode home a bike that had one of the pedals broken off. It took longer than usual, because I was travelling at a lower speed, but by your definition my bike didn't have a defect. In my opinion, a missing pedal is pretty darn broken.

Annealing? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310636)

Someone who understands both should comment on how similar this process is to annealing.

Re:Annealing? (2, Informative)

bhima (46039) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310666)

As I understand annealing it removes internal stresses created by uneven heating and cooling. This process smoothes etching or deposition defects.

Re:Annealing? (-1, Troll)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310704)

This process is nothing similar to annealing-- annealing changes the physical properties of the metal without changing the form (significantly). This process is changing the form of the metal without changing the physical properties.

Whatever made you ask this question?

Re:Annealing? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23310736)

"Whatever made you ask this question?"
People generally ask questions to get answers. You, however, seem to ask questions to make other people feel stupid.

Re:Annealing? (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310790)

It gets hot and the defects get smoothed out.

I'm pretty sure that annealing changes the microstructure of a piece of metal (it doesn't change the form at a macro scale, but the internal structure changes), and the changes that this process makes seem to be occurring at a similar scale to recrystallization.

As far as why, I think it's interesting to look for parallels in the cutting edge of technology and ancient trade craft.

Re:Annealing? (1)

afxgrin (208686) | more than 5 years ago | (#23315076)

There's been a lot of research in how lasers interact with materials. It seems like the defacto research project when you can't think of anything else. So the physics journals have stacks and stacks of research on this shit. Especially lasers interacting with silicon, GaAs, gold, aluminum and steel.

As far as I can see, this technique could be put to great use in cleaning up quantum wells and quantum dots in laser and LED diode structures. More precision in manufacturing would probably lead to more precise light output.

I for one, support our laser cleaned nanostructure overlords.

Here's what annealing does in glass. (3, Informative)

ahfoo (223186) | more than 5 years ago | (#23316094)

One of my dozens of hobbyist hats is my glassworkers hat and annealing is a big deal in glasswork. From my experience with glass, I would say that annealing is probably the wrong term because this involves an actual deformation. Typically in annealing you want to stay below the point at which deformation occurs and your main concern is to create a gradual change in the temperature over time in order to eliminate internal stresses. So that's probably not the best word to use in this case since this is not about alleviating internal stresses but actual changes in the shape of the product.
     

quick explanation (5, Informative)

anmida (1276756) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310784)

I'm a materials scientist, so hopefully I can explain this quickly for you all :)

The images that are given (before and after) are some scanning electron microscope images. Think optical microscope except with electrons. Anyway, there is a serious improvement in the structure - the edges are a lot cleaner and more defined. This is a really simple and beautiful way of letting Nature do the hard work for us. What this is doing is liquifing the material and letting surface tension pull it into the lowest-energy configuration (least amount of surface area locally).

It's really a neat way of doing it, because fabrication is really tough - uses either chemical etching or some method of particle bombardment to remove atoms. There's a big trend in matsci to build down, and build up, at the same time at the nanoscale. Think of this as the "error-correction" process after fabrication.

--This is not the same as annealing - annealing is a solid-state process, putting energy into the material to enable atoms to move and remove stress and other small defects from the material.

Hope that helps :)

Re:quick explanation (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23311006)

I see some major issues with this in real world semiconductor manufacturing. They are depending on the surface tension of the molten liquid to straighten the lines. You will need very specific materials for this - the commonly used materials such as photoresists and dielectrics used to generate the patterns do not melt - they vaporize. The bottom surface has to be extremely "hydro"phobic (or phobic to the material).

You could possibly use a metal. The only metal that can be melted and patterned - Aluminum, is not used at advanced nodes (less than 0.13um).

Further, there is a whole host of other defect issues coming from pressing the "flat plate" on and releasing it.

It is a good academic exercise, but holds very little practical applicability...

They did it with semiconductor, thats why its cool (2, Informative)

GanjaManja (946130) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311748)

quote from article:

Simple melting by direct heating has previously been shown to smooth out the defects in plastic structures.
This process can't be applied to a microchip for two reasons. First, the key structures on a chip are not made of plastic, which melts at temperatures close to the boiling point of water, but from semiconductors and metals, which have much higher melting points.
Heating the chip to such temperatures would melt not just the structures, but nearly everything else on the chip. Second, the melting process would widen the structures and round off their top and side surfaces, all of which would be detrimental to the chip.

Chou's team overcame the first obstacle by using a [...] laser [...] because it heats only a very thin surface layer of a material and causes no damage to the structures underneath. The researchers carefully designed the pulse so that it would melt only semiconductor and metal structures, and not damage other parts of the chip. The structures need to be melted for only a fraction of a millionth of a second, because molten metal and semiconductors can flow as easily as water and have high surface tension, which allows them to change shapes very quickly.

That's pretty amazing, that the semiconductor and metal self-correct via surface tension, and by using a directed laser pulse so you only affect specific areas of the chip.

Re:They did it with semiconductor, thats why its c (1)

GanjaManja (946130) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311784)

maybe they'll extend this First Proof-of-concept to the 45nm scale, but their demo. is already at 70nm (lines) and 50nm (dots).

the lines demonstration is a big deal to Intel's optical waveguiding, as it'll reduce the sidewall scattering loss of the waveguides considerably. I'd imagine the dots would be great for transistor gates.

Re:They did it with semiconductor, thats why its c (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319718)

"The structures need to be melted for only a fraction of a millionth of a second,"

wow and i thought I was fast.... TFA suggests that 'correction' could be automatic, although they used an electron microscope to fix chips, I'm guessing that the laser could simply be provided with the chip map, fire the laser along the parts that need to be fixed to make the chip work, (with the quartz either touching the chip, or slightly above it, the slightly above it making the lines narrow and tall a desirable trait for chips) well, if it really works without checking the chip optically to program the the laser, then it could easily be used soon, and make faster chips for everyone.

very cool, and yet another technology thanks to our 'national defense' budget...

Re:quick explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23311172)

Could you re-explain this with a car analogy?

Re:quick explanation (1)

jadin (65295) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311814)

I couldn't think of a car one but I came up with cookie one.

You know how most cookies are round lumpy balls of dough that when you cook them ooze out into a flat circle cookie? It's like that. Big lumpy ball of cpu thingies becomes flat circle cpu thingies.

Mmmm cookies.

Re:quick explanation (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 5 years ago | (#23314108)

"Could you re-explain this with a car analogy?"

Basically, you have a car and you want to remove the defects from it. So you melt it down and let it cool. It turns into a big smooth lump of metal, and is more functional than it was before. This, of course, is only true for certain types of cars, such as Ford.

A good analogy is with solder. You are trying to solder two pieces of metal, and the solder comes out wrong and does not provide a good connection. Usually the best fix is to simply re-heat the solder; it will melt, and through surface tension alone, it will probably take on a more ideal shape and provide a better connection than before.

Re:quick explanation (1)

Dreadneck (982170) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311704)

It may not be the same as annealing, but it does seem very similar in that you are adding enrgy to the material in the form of laser light and allowing the atoms on the chip to move and in the process correct defects in the material structure.

Re:quick explanation (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#23312190)

I'm guessing the main difference is that the laser causes very localized surface heating rather than isotropic heating throughout the sample.

Also, this process is beautifully simple. We do this in my field, too, but using polymers in almost exactly the same process. I haven't seen a picture in my field nearly as convincing as the SEMs in this project, however.

Re:quick explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23314298)

Ok, so they've made things look nice, but I can't help feeling that this may cock up the diffusion of the dopants, making the silicon pretty but useless...

Silicon reflow (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23310858)

So this kinda feels like solder rework but on die with semiconductor instead of solder. Silicon reflow.

Re:Silicon reflow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23312006)

The reason why a quartz plate above and not touching the silicon/metal makes the molten structure rise and 'somehow' become taller and narrower must be Casimir force! The dimensions of the structures are small enough, and Casimir force between conductor and dielectric is usually attractive.

I may be oversimplifying things here, but... (1)

stoofa (524247) | more than 5 years ago | (#23310942)

The final link in the summary shows a diagram of how it works. The second 'capped' example shows a load of messy green lines that have some rather neat blue lines placed over the top of them to produce some red hot neat lines that cool to form nice neat green lines.

Rather than doing all that, whatever process they used to make the nice neat blue lines should be used to make the green ones in the first place.

Re:I may be oversimplifying things here, but... (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311382)

The article describes those blue lines as a quartz plate that sort of shapes the melted microchip parts. I think the blue strips in the one part of the diagram are more of a graphic simplification for visual clarity rather than a drawing meant to show an entirely realistic diagram of what is going on. I wouldn't think it particularly easy to make strips of quartz that tiny, not to mention properly align them over equally small transistors and stuff beneath.

But even if it is possible, maybe the techniques used to shape quartz in that way don't work with the materials used to make the transistors. I'm sure there's a reason why they didn't do as you suggested.

Re:I may be oversimplifying things here, but... (1)

GanjaManja (946130) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311894)

the problem is the "green ones" are Silicon crystal, meaning they are part of the same crystal as the substrate and thus semiconductor (which you can make diodes/transistors out of).
The blue ones are glass (quartz), a highly resistive dielectric, which you can only make resistors out of.
The end result must be that the semiconductor (or metal i suppose) is smoother.

I haven't found the original paper, but i'd guess they wafer bonded the Si substrate and quartz plate.
To Stoofa's point, i do wonder why the quartz is so smooth on it's surface, maybe it's just very well polished?
Also to Stoofa's point, how did they define the quartz with smoother sidewalls than the Silicon?

I'm impressed (3, Funny)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311056)

They spelled liquifaction correctly.

Re:I'm impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23311824)

liquidfraction /sorry, pet peeve

Re:I'm impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23314156)

in one deft swoop, you misspelled both liquefaction and liquification

Build - Debug - Analyze (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311206)

Finally, the CS way of developing is extending to other areas.

Soon architects will quickly make ten buildings without much previous study, then sell those who don't fall in the first two weeks with the promise that if some fall in the first five years, they'll release a v2.0 shaped as the ones still standing.

I can almost see the changelog:
"v1.5.1142 - The coming of winter discovered a weakness against rain in paper roof. New ice roof installed."

Re:Build - Debug - Analyze (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311278)

Look into modern architecture. If you judge a building by it's roof, lots of modern buildings are failures.

Er um, maybe not so much (3, Interesting)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311234)

Er, this looks really keen, but you have to consider the downside. Yes, there is a downside.

When fabricating chips, yes, you do want nice clean lines. Whopeee for clean lines. All hail clean lines. By coincidence, surface tension works towards cleaning up lines. Somebody should have patented surface tension. Too late now.

But eventually the nice clean lines end up at a transistor or resistor. There the rules are very different. You don't want surface tension to do its thing on the end of the line, which would be to shorten it. Very conveniently these nice pictures don't show what happens at the end of each line. How convenient.

Re:Er um, maybe not so much (2, Insightful)

GanjaManja (946130) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311944)

But also, the nice part of their process is that you can direct the lasers to certain areas of the chip.

I agree they should show the ends, but you could possibly use the directed laser pulse to stay away from the terminals.

Re:Er um, maybe not so much (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23316632)

Jesus, could you try to sound less smug when making an insightful comment. You raise a good point, but "How convenient" just makes you sound like a prick.

Re:Er um, maybe not so much (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 5 years ago | (#23316860)

Yes, it'll shorten them. But if you take that into account when etching them in the first place, they'll shorten to the exact length needed. So shortening isn't a problem.

However...

Chips are made by building up layers that aren't all necessarily at the same height. So when it comes time to put a new layer down, the question becomes 'how do you only melt the top layer in contact with the shield, and not the bottom layer you already melted once?

Re:Er um, maybe not so much (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23316894)

Yes, if only you had a precision optical heating device which could be masked off to only cook the long wires, and skip the transistors. Such as a high energy laser, as described in the article.

Perfects defects too! (1, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311396)

Hang on a second. A little random wiggling in a "wire" does no real harm -- it lengthens the path a little, maybe introduces a little more heating, but the electrons still go where they're supposed to.

The problem comes when the random wiggles cause two wires to touch, creating a short. Then you've got an actual dead chip.

But if this self-perfection thing works the way I think it does, it should cause that "bridge" to become stronger, just as two drops of water on a window merge when they touch.

Doesn't sound too useful to me!

Re:Perfects defects too! (2, Insightful)

N1ck0 (803359) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311492)

The issue is that in smaller conductor fabrication sizes the little wiggles do make a difference. The flaws in fabrication causes small variances in current and electrons to 'leak', this makes fabricating a 45nm chip so much harder then a 90nm chip. So by straightening the conductors you can make that 45nm chip easier to produce reliably, and also push the boundaries to make even smaller chips.

Re:Perfects defects too! (1)

GanjaManja (946130) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311992)

actually, the roughness would cause electrons (or holes) to recombine or otherwise get lost at the surface defects, and (as you said) increase the heat while decreasing the current, in general requiring more power and generating more heat, all bad I think.

So it's still good for wires. You can see their wires are only 100nm apart, without touching.

Re:Perfects defects too! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#23312860)

Not quite correct.

Buses need to all be the same length, longer wires change how long an a signal takes. You are talking about some very, very short periods of time. And the are getting shorter. Also a loose wire will break as the vibration of the machine keep wiggling it.

Having worked in manufacturing... (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311408)

I can tell you that reworking products takes three times as long, and therefore costs three times as much money, as doing it right the first time. This is because you have to build the defective product the first time, detect the defect, and repair the defect. The time and money spent on this research is better spent on getting the original manufacturing process under better control.

Don't blame me. Deming [wikipedia.org]said it first.

Re:Having worked in manufacturing... (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311796)

AFAIK, in this case, getting the manufacturing process under better control implies getting the laws of physics under better control.

Re:Having worked in manufacturing... (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#23312046)

See the "Seven Deadly Diseases [wikipedia.org]" section of the link I posted above.

4. Excuses, such as "Our problems are different."

Getting the laws of physics under control is part of any manufacturing process.

Re:Having worked in manufacturing... (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 5 years ago | (#23312110)

The point is that you can't control the laws of physics, only understand and work around them.

Re:Having worked in manufacturing... (2, Informative)

J.R. Random (801334) | more than 5 years ago | (#23312216)

This isn't a matter of detecting defects and fixing them. It is a matter of applying a finishing step that improves the whole chip at once. You can be sure than chip manufacturers try very, very hard to get things right the first time. But if you read the article you would know that there are basic physical processes that make a certain amount of randomness and jagginess inevitable, which the laser process fixes.

Re:Having worked in manufacturing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23312318)

Also having worked in manufacturing...

This is NOT reworking a part as you understand it. This is the equivalent of milling the critical parts of a casting. Adding a finishing step is MUCH cheaper than making a perfectly smooth casting.

Remember, physics works differently on the nano-scale, so yes, the problem is COMPLETELY different.

Anonymous because I'm lazy

Re:Having worked in manufacturing... (1)

amh131 (126681) | more than 5 years ago | (#23312970)

I think the idea here would be to make this a standard part of the manufacturing process -- don't attempt to detect which fab steps have defects, just zap them all with a short pulse in an attempt to regularize the current patterning. Heck, maybe you'd even leave the mask in place! Or, more likely, make up a new mask so you only remelt regions that can benefit. That would certainly add to manufacturing cost (masks are expensive) but probably not even to the degree that planarization did.

Re:Having worked in manufacturing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23313538)

If you had RTFA (I know, this is /. but I can hope) you would know that the plan is to zap the entire chip at once, no mask necessary. This makes the added cost minimal.

ABIL (Anonymous Because Im Lazy)

Before -after, huh? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#23311416)

Now! From electronic researchers at the Princeton University, comes... Self-Perfection by Liquefaction! (public oohs)

Testimony: "I was a lousy CPU, i overheated and it was exhausting. But when I tried Self-Perfection by Liquefaction, my life changed".

(Shows picture of before / after)

(public wows and applauds)

And this perfection can only be yours by the mere price of ... not 1,000, not 500, not 100, but a mere $9.95!

CALL NOW!

Very Very Impressive (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23311632)

One of the major problems with getting linewidth (and thus line separation) down in the photoresist process is the problem of dielectric breakdown. Charge builds up at the irregular surface and if two points on different conductng lines are near one another they will arc across and the chip will be useless (same reason arc lamp electrodes are shaped as needles). This process seems to remove the irregularities, which should allow chip fab units to lay down pathways closer together. Note even the square spots get round(liquids form spheres to reduce surface area) which reduces the tendency for breakdown to occur. If nothing else could allow for the use of lower dielectric packaging, and make things cheaper.

Really cool.

Moore's Law is back?! (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 5 years ago | (#23312710)

Moore's Law reminds me of Weird Al Yankovic. Every few years, someone proclaims that it's making a "comeback". The reality is, of course, that Moore's Law was never gone in the first place.

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