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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.”





"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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