Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

MIT's Self-Assembling 3D Nanostructures — the Future of Computer Chips?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the i-am-pentium-of-borg dept.

Hardware 30

MrSeb writes "MIT has devised a way of creating complex, self-assembling 3D nanostructures of wires and junctions. While self-assembling structures have been made from polymers before, this is the first time that multi-layer, configurable layouts have been created, opening up the path to self-assembled computer chips. Basically, MIT uses diblock copolymers, which are large molecules formed from two distinct polymers (each with different chemical and physical properties). These copolymers naturally form long cylinders — wires. The key to MIT's discovery is that the scientists have worked out how to exactly control the arrangement of these block copolymers. By growing tiny, 10nm-wide silica 'posts' on a silicon substrate, the researchers can control the angles, bends, spacing, and junctions of the copolymer wires. Once the grid of posts has been built, the wafer is simply covered in the polymer material, and chip's wires and junctions self-assemble. The reason everyone is so excited, though, is that the silica posts can be built using equipment that is compatible with existing semiconductor fabs. Theoretically, chips built using this technique could have a much smaller feature size than the 28nm and 22nm chips produced by TSMC and Intel. According to Caroline Ross of MIT, it should be possible to build posts that are much smaller than 10nm."

cancel ×

30 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

And Skynet becomes self aware (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40261073)

I for one welcome our new nanite overloads!

Re:And Skynet becomes self aware (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261379)

Nanotechnology always amazes me. I love the 21st century.

Greetings from the 22nd century! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40261797)

You ain't seen nothing yet. Oh, and sorry about 2017-2025.

Re:Greetings from the 22nd century! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40265615)

It's OK, since anyone from the future means humanity survived some more shit they got themselves into. You _are_ human, right?

Re:Greetings from the 22nd century! (1)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40269849)

John Titor, is that you?

Re:And Skynet becomes self aware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40265633)

Nanotechnology is going to be huge!

What is the width of an electron? (2)

scubamage (727538) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261101)

Just curious - i thought one of the limits here was that eventually you hit a point where an electron can no longer freely pass through the conductor. I could be wrong (I am in no way an EE).

Re:What is the width of an electron? (4, Funny)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261127)

The exact width of the electron in nanometers is... cloudy.

Re:What is the width of an electron? (1)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261143)

Best I can recollect, the theoretical limit in question would be with single atom widths, aka 0.1nm

Re:What is the width of an electron? (4, Funny)

io333 (574963) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261179)

well then we need to do some research on making smaller electrons

Re:What is the width of an electron? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261945)

Yes Sir Mr. Johnson!

Re:What is the width of an electron? (3, Informative)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261299)

Technically a 2-dimensional metallic sheet of atoms is an insulator (the number of paths the electron can take that close back on its original position increases quicker then the number which do not).

But a 1-dimensional line of atoms goes back to being an ordinary conductor.

More practically, Scanning Tunneling Microscopes are based on producing single atom sized features on their tips from where electrons tunnel from - but if you touch the tip to the surface they just start conducting normally.

Re:What is the width of an electron? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40261167)

Unless you're talking about building conduits that are comprised of elementary particles (like Electrons), I really don't think it's going to be an issue..

(also not an EE)

Re:What is the width of an electron? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40262149)

Also not an EE, but a background in physics helps. I believe you start having problems with quantum effects if you get too small. So it might "freely pass" or it might jump through an insulator to a differnt wire because it felt like it.

I wonder how much money (1)

nhat11 (1608159) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261157)

they will be saving with this technique and how accessible this is so more companies (competitors) can take advantage of this and keep up with Intel.

potential? (1)

KingBenny (1301797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261187)

is this the self-repairing hull i read so much about when i was the innocent kid ?

Dynamic changes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40261281)

Can we dynamically reconfigure these structures? Can we bind ions to the surface of the wires?

Answers on a post-card please.

One problem still unsolved (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261367)

We can make it smaller, but we still can't alter the thermodynamics of the system: Specifically Black's Law -- the more current you pump into a given area, the more heat it's going to give off. Electromigration is a already a significant engineering barrier to further minaturization. Nanowires are going to break down even faster than existing circuit etchings.

I'm sure there's an EE reading this who can provide the grisly details of how circuit pathways would degrade, and the equations showing the reduced MTBF. But it's my lunch break right now, and I'm lazy. :)

Re:One problem still unsolved (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40263393)

Maybe you could make chips fault tolerant. You buy a 1024-core processor. After a year, it's down to 900. After two years, 800. By three years it's performing half as well with only 500 cores not failed, and at that point you go and buy a new one.

Re:One problem still unsolved (2)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40264313)

Electromigration doesn't happen in conductors that have only covalent bounds. It is a problem exclusive to metals.

Also, you escape Black's Law by reducing the current.

let me understand it better... (3, Interesting)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261377)

... so, the claim is that one can build self-assembled circuitry, but you are still using 10nm "silica posts [...] built using equipment that is compatible with existing semiconductor fabs", i.e., you are still running your wafers through 10nm-capable semiconductor process for at least one step. If you have access to such a process, why not build wires using it as well, while we are at it?

Iast time I checked, metal ions in deposition chambers also "self-assemble" themselves into metal films, subsequently selectively etched and producing wiring on each and every chip currently made! ;-)

Paul B.

Re:let me understand it better... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40261987)

So there has to be one fab that builds one standard blank. Then those blanks can get shipped anywhere, possibly including your garage, and filled in with arbitrary circuits by means much (hoped to be) much cheaper than a full fledged fab.

Anybody could design chips and turn them around quickly. You could build chips without disclosing your design to a fab, and without worrying that the fab has messed with it (huge security issue). Possibly the economically viable volume for a design could be smaller.

And it could be easier to get smaller feature sizes with a single regular pattern than with many layers of complicated patterns that have to register with one another.

That sounds pretty huge to me. If they get it to work for real, of course.

Re:let me understand it better... (3, Informative)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40262501)

I do not think that it will be "one standard blank" -- from how I imagine it works, post positions determine ends and T's of the "wires", so, good luck with "arbitrary circuits"... From TFA:
"By carefully controlling the initial spacing of the posts, Ross explains, the researchers were able to set the spacing, angles, bends and junctions of the cylinders that form on the surface."

Of course, this can as well be a great achievement, for other, more biologically-connected purposes, but I am getting tired of generic "This is the way to make next-gen chips" hype, just call it what it is, a decent advance in nanotech, mixing semiconductors and long molecules, but do not hold your breath for the next Pentium to come out of it! ;-)

As to "Anybody could design chips" part -- well... Your world is much luckier than mine! ;-)

Paul B.

MIT is a front organization (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40261383)

Well, they're a school. But some of these advances are from the controlled release of technology given to us by extraterrestrials. Part of the agreement we made so they can mutilate cows and do experiments on some humans without interference.

Re:MIT is a front organization (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40262199)

Well, yes, but the aliens are just a front for the government who's discovered text books from atlantis.

What exactly is Chips? (1)

Maxrot (2649587) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261567)

The future of the computer chips of course very nice, but did not understand exactly what that means. : http://www.vayoog.com/birol-balaban.html [vayoog.com]

PR Junk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40262055)

'MIT' did this... 'MIT' did that...

The researchers and students did it, not the school.

Re:PR Junk. (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40262377)

'MIT' did this... 'MIT' did that...

The researchers and students did it, not the school.

Ok then, "a number of people working at MIT has devised a way of creating complex, self-assembling 3D nanostructures of wires and junctions." There, happy now? Or do you think they'd have been able to do this in their garages without the resources of an institution like MIT?

Any other hairs you'd like to split?

Batteries not included. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40262929)

MIT's Self-Assembling 3D Nanostructures — the Future of Computer Chips?

And biology.

news office / PR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40263033)

Can we please stop with these totally overhyped stories coming out of the PR departments!
Link to the paper not the propaganda!

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?