New material could double chip processing speed

A scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic has developed and patented a new insulating material that has the potential to double the processing speed of microchips.

James Crivello, professor of chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has developed and patented a new insulating material that has the potential to double the processing speed of microchips.

Crivello has developed a process for making pure multifunctional epoxy siloxane resins, which are considered to be the next-generation insulator for a range of micro and optoelectronic applications.

Silicon dioxide, the material now used on most chips, has a dielectric constant of about 4. The lower the number, the faster the computer signals will transmit through the material.

Some companies have already begun to manufacture chips using a dielectric constant of 2.8. A strong market exists for a material with a value of around 2.2.

‘But given the high cost and high risks involved in semiconductor manufacturing, industry will not be willing to use any new low-k material until it has been demonstrated to be reliable and practical for manufacturing,’ said Toh-Ming Lu, director of Rensselaer’s Centre for Advanced Interconnect Science and Technology (CAIST). Lu is principal investigator and manager of the project.

New York state recently awarded Rensselaer $300,000 to evaluate the novel resins for use as interlayer dielectrics in all integrated circuit applications, such as insulators in microelectronics packaging, and as waveguides in optoelectronics on a chip, in a package, or in optical communication.

Rensselaer issued a license to the Polyset company to manufacture and market the resins. The company, along with other resources, will provide an additional $300,000 in funding for a total of $600,000 for the two-year project.

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