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Research Team Takes Another Big Step in Creating Small Chips

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platinum structures

An enlarged image of platinum structures create by copolymer self-assembly.

Credit: University of Alberta

Researchers at the University of Alberta and the National Institute for Nanotechnology have developed a method for heating plastic in a microwave oven that could help to re-invent the manufacture of computer chips. "When we heat block copolymer plastics, which are two different plastics attached together, the molecules begin separating and naturally self-assemble," says Alberta professor Jillian Buriak. The method reduces the size of computer chips and accelerates their production.

"In the case of heat block copolymer plastics, the molecules spontaneously line up, creating nano-sized lines that act as a template for intricate circuitry patterns that can be imprinted on silicon to make computer chips," Buriak says. The researchers' heat and self-assembly technique produces denser patterns of lines on chips than existing methods, which could lead to an overall increase in the processing speed and storage capacity of next generation computers.

"The industry is now seeking out a new generation of technologies capable of continuing the miniaturization of computer chips in a cost-effective and practical manner," says the National Institute of Nanotechnology's Ken Harris.

From University of Alberta
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