Our blog is dedicated to a global discussion about the ideas, actions and technologies changing the world as we know it.
Kathryn Ta, Ph.D.
Kathryn served as Managing Director of Strategic Marketing for the Silicon Systems Group at Applied Materials and oversaw competitive analysis, market research, executive messaging and collateral development.
There’s a lot of excitement building regarding several new mobile product announcements on the horizon, including a concept smartwatch, a new phablet and a new smartphone. These products are sure to be on a lot of consumers’ wish lists this holiday season, and users will expect them to have a sleeker look and feel, while running applications instantly, providing all-day battery life and possessing beautiful, high resolution displays.As we’ve discussed, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets continue to be the primary driver for semiconductor technology advancements.
To prevent electrical current leaking between adjacent transistors, state-of-the-art microchips feature shallow trench isolation (STI) to isolate transistors from each other. Key steps in the STI process involve etching a pattern of trenches in the silicon, depositing dielectric materials to fill the trenches, and removing the excess dielectric using technologies such as chemical-mechanical planarization (CMP). But as the industry scales to sub-20 nanometers significant challenges for the STI etch step are emerging.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, (IEEE) has bestowed the title of Fellow on Dr. Randhir Thakur, executive vice president and general manager of Applied Materials’ Silicon Systems Group, for his groundbreaking contributions to microchip fabrication.To celebrate Randhir’s ongoing achievements, we made this video highlighting one of the semiconductor industry’s most prolific inventors and successful leaders.
This TEM image taken at Applied Materials’ Maydan Technology Center shows a series of 20nm-wide trenches in cross section. These tiny structures – about 1/5000th of the diameter of an average human hair – are similar to the interconnects used to wire the billions of transistors in next-generation microchips. You can see that each trench is partially filled with copper, all the way to the bottom, with no gaps or voids. This was achieved using Applied’s revolutionary copper reflow technology. For a primer on how interconnects are made and how copper reflow works, see this video.
Transistors are the fundamental building blocks out of which all modern electronic devices are built. Invented in the early 1950s, transistors are the semiconductor switches that control and amplify electronic signals. As demand has grown over the years for greater performance from these devices, chipmakers have responded by packing wafers with twice as many of the transistors that drive that performance every two years – a trend described by the iconic Moore’s Law. Today, an advanced microprocessor may use up to three billion transistors.