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HP lends out technology to make 15nm circuits

Some of the much fabled technology of HP Labs is getting licensed out to a firm interested in making nanoscale electronics. Specifically, Nanolithosolutions of Carlsbad, Calif. has licensed from HP a technology process called nanoimprint lithography (NIL) – a method of literally stamping out patterns of wires less than 50 atoms wide on a substrate.

HP Labs researchers created NIL technology, which has enabled the fabrication of laboratory prototype circuits with wire widths of 15 nanometers.

“Because HP and other companies need unique tools to conduct nanoscale research and development, we created the underlying technology that makes this tool possible,” said Stan Williams, HP Senior Fellow and director, Quantum Science Research, HP Labs. “But we rely on innovative companies like Nanolithosolutions to do the additional engineering necessary to make user-friendly tools commercially available. This will help create future generations of chips that will go beyond the capabilities of today’s fabrication technologies at an affordable cost.”

Nanolithosolutions has developed a tool based on HP’s technology, which consists of a module that fits into a mask aligner. The module is used to create the patterns for wires and transistors on a substrate. The tool is simple and inexpensive to use and turns commonly available mask aligners into high-resolution NIL machines.

Once the NIL “master” is created, copies can be stamped out quickly and inexpensively, like manufacturing CDs or phonograph records. The patterns are then filled in with metals for the wires.

“By building on HP’s extensive research in nanoimprint lithography, we believe we have a tool that will enable reliable, repeatable processes for exploring biochips, photonics chips and many other applications,” said Bo Pi, chief executive officer, Nanolithosolutions. “We believe this will be an extremely useful tool for academic and commercial users worldwide because it will be about a tenth the cost of current technology.”



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...doesn't this seem like an obvious idea?
By zsouthboy on 5/8/2007 1:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
The technical details are probably insane, I know, but stamping circuits instead of using traditional lithography?




RE: ...doesn't this seem like an obvious idea?
By Moishe on 5/8/2007 2:21:17 PM , Rating: 2
it does seem pretty obvious... but I have no idea. This is very cool. I wonder how they build the master stamp?


RE: ...doesn't this seem like an obvious idea?
By patentman on 5/8/2007 2:40:21 PM , Rating: 2
The master stamp costs a fortune to make. I saw a talk a few years ago by Dr. S.R. Sreevinasan of Molecular Imprints several years ago while working as a patent examiner at the PTO. Idea is simple, implementation is very very hard.

http://www.molecularimprints.com/


By patentman on 5/8/2007 2:40:59 PM , Rating: 2
They make the stamp by electron beam lithography.


RE: ...doesn't this seem like an obvious idea?
By darkpaw on 5/8/2007 2:24:14 PM , Rating: 2
Seems like it, I'm sure if its feasible all tech companies would love to get rid of the highly toxic (and expensive) chemicals involed in the etching process. The masks might also last longer this way.

There must be some limitations though, it sounds like this might only work on connecting layers as it talks about connection sizes, but not feature size for anything like transistors.


RE: ...doesn't this seem like an obvious idea?
By patentman on 5/8/2007 2:44:57 PM , Rating: 2
Some limitations as I recall are:

-cost: the stamper costs a ton

-accuracy: making a single imprint is one thing, aligning thousands of stamped images line on line is another

-adhesion of the photmask to the stamper: It's easy to push the stamper into the photomask, getting it back out with a clean edge when you have walls on the order of 10 atoms thick is another.


RE: ...doesn't this seem like an obvious idea?
By patentman on 5/8/2007 2:48:42 PM , Rating: 1
And for the record, most photolith materials are not highly toxic. Granted you would not want to drink them, but they are not so awful that getting some on you would mean instant death or disfiguration.


By AntDX316 on 5/8/2007 10:52:52 PM , Rating: 2
in other words its harmless?


By spartan014 on 5/8/2007 11:06:30 PM , Rating: 2
Lets not jump into conclusions straightaway.. Only time will tell whether this new technology replaces photo lithography.
The one advantage it seems to have is faster rate of production. That has got to be counted..


ONe other thing
By patentman on 5/8/2007 2:47:47 PM , Rating: 2
Not to troll this topic, but one other thing that has to be considered is that there is tremendous industry expertise in photolithography, whereas nonimprint technology is in its infancy. It will be tough to get large semiconductor firms to transition from known tried and true techniques to one that is relatively unproven. Granted, estimated costs of a nanoimprint tool are on the order of 1-5 million, vs. 15-45 million for an industrial U.V. photolith apparatus, so maybe the cost will drive industry to this tech...




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