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Future Chips

Revolutionary Computing and Leapfrog Device Technologies

The computer revolution has been fueled by technological advances that have doubled the power and speed of computer chips about every 18 months, largely by packing more and smaller features on chips.

Changes in materials and processes have produced even more gains.

But, given the width of an atom and basic laws of physics, the ability to count on smaller size as the main source of increased speed and power is reaching its limit. As the industry looks to the future, it is clear that new “leapfrog” technologies will be needed.

Focusing on the Future

Rensselaer is a partner in the Interconnect Focus Center, established by the semiconductor industry to explore technology that will be needed seven or more years down the road.

Major participants are Georgia Tech, Stanford, MIT, the Focus Center New York – Rensselaer, and the State University at Albany.

The microelectronics industry has long recognized improved interconnects as a key to continued progress in the speed and power of the computer chips that are at the heart of the microelectronics revolution.

Rensselaer has pioneered three key interconnect technologies:

  • the move from aluminum to copper,
  • the development of low-dielectric constant insulators,
  • and the use of chemical mechanical planarization to create the smooth surfaces needed for multilayer interconnects.

Building on this expertise, Rensselaer is concentrating on the question of future chips — the technologies that will be needed a decade down the road.

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