The Threat Within

The Threat Within

Given that today’s advanced chips can contain billions of transistors, 60 miles of copper wiring and 10 billion vertical connections between metal layers, the challenges and potential pitfalls this level of complexity presents are mind-boggling. One major problem on the horizon at 20nm and below is the threat of voids forming in the vertical interconnects commonly called vias.
Applied Materials

Setting the Gold Standard for Social Innovation

As I watched the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, I was impressed – not just with the amazing production – but with the hundreds of smiling athletes from countries around the globe who have worked so hard and long to realize their dream of international competition. They have developed unique talents, persevered in the face of challenges, and focused with tremendous determination to reach a goal that puts them on a global stage.It wasn’t much of a stretch for me to think of the social entrepreneurs and leaders of nongovernmental agencies who do the same thing each day … they lock their sights on a goal and drive themselves and their organizations to fulfill a vision of making a positive impact on society. Although the scale is different, the annual Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials, are the Olympics for innovators who are using technology to benefit humanity and for philanthropists like Narayana Murthy who is a champion in using the power of technology to improve the way people live.
Witnessing a walk on the moon: Too bad we didn’t have 3D TVs!

Witnessing a walk on the moon: Too bad we didn’t have 3D TVs!

With 15 years of experience in the Display industry at Applied Materials, I have witnessed firsthand the dynamic advances that have taken place in display technologies.  But as remarkable as these advances have been; the excitement and promise of displays are their ability to allow for the interaction of the shared human experience.Last Friday marked one of the great anniversaries in the history of live broadcast television, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on this moment in time and briefly describe the giant leaps made in display technology over the last 40 years.
Flowing Copper: the Secret to Nanoscale Chip Wiring

Flowing Copper: the Secret to Nanoscale Chip Wiring

If you were to slice up a microchip and take a look (you’d need a really powerful microscope, I'm afraid) you would see what looks like a nanoscale layer cake.All the active circuit elements – transistors, memory cells etc. – are on the bottom. The other 90% of the chip is a maze of tiny copper wires, which we call interconnects.The history of chip development is all about shrinking circuit features. When the transistors shrink, so must the interconnects. Today, the smallest interconnects can be  fewer than 200 atoms across.In this video, I take a quick look at how the interconnect fabrication process is done and then demonstrate how our revolutionary copper reflow technology works.
Making Microcircuits Real: the Evolution of Etch

Making Microcircuits Real: the Evolution of Etch

Etch.A very short word for a hugely important technology, without which there would be no microchips. Etch is the process by which images of circuit features printed on a silicon wafer are engraved into the films below. Put another way, etch makes circuits real.Last week, I blogged about how our latest innovations in plasma etch technology can help chipmakers construct 3D Flash memory arrays. In fact, etch has been solving cutting-edge problems for more than three decades.
Helping Flash Memory Grow Up: Etch Technology for the Terabit Era

Helping Flash Memory Grow Up: Etch Technology for the Terabit Era

It might be the understatement of the year to say that Flash memory is popular. Every year, we consume nearly twice as many bits as the year before.Consider these nuggets: Today’s smart phones have more Flash memory than a desktop computer’s hard drive from the mid-1990s. Even budget phones can capture high-definition (HD) video and share it on the web. Flash-based solid state drives have moved from exotic to commonplace in just the last couple of years.This has been made possible by a precipitous fall in the cost-per-bit. Every five years, the cost falls by an order of magnitude. How do memory makers cope with this treadmill?
Applied Materials

The New Mobility Era

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.
Applied Materials Celebrates the Summer Solstice #solsticeapplied

Applied Materials Celebrates the Summer Solstice #solsticeapplied

Summer solstice is a great time to celebrate the sun and all the benefits we receive from it–light, resources for life and warmth for the Earth. It’s also a great time to talk about solar energy and its adoption around the world. For the past four years, Applied has used this day to highlight the benefits of solar technology, as well as dispel common misperceptions about this renewable energy source. Today, we released the results of our annual solar energy survey which measures consumer understanding and awareness of solar in China, India, Japan and the United States. We chose these countries because the anticipated growth of photovoltaic (PV) installations is greatest in these markets.