Epitaxy: Seeking Crystalline Perfection

Epitaxy: Seeking Crystalline Perfection

Epitaxy is one of the fundamental processes used to make all kinds of semiconductor devices: LEDs, power electronics and, of course, microchips.Epitaxy was first used in chipmaking to grow ultrapure silicon films – the starting point for making high-performance CMOS transistors. Today, we use epitaxy for a whole lot more.
Innovating Out of the Solar Winter – Dan Hutcheson Interviews Applied’s Jim Mullin

Innovating Out of the Solar Winter – Dan Hutcheson Interviews Applied’s Jim Mullin

The end market for solar power is booming, thanks to tremendous cost decreases over the last few years. However, it’s a crowded market for the companies that actually make the solar cells. Last week, Applied’s Giorgio Cellere blogged about how new manufacturing technology can help solar cell makers gain a competitive edge.Recently, Dan Hutcheson, CEO of VLSIresearch, explored this same subject in more depth with Jim Mullin, vice president of Solar Marketing at Applied Materials, in a video interview titled “Innovating out of the Solar Winter with Technology”.
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?
Ion Implantation 101: Spicing up Silicon

Ion Implantation 101: Spicing up Silicon

Pure silicon isn’t terribly thrilling. It’s neither a perfect insulator nor a perfect conductor. It’s somewhere in the middle.Inserting a smattering of boron or phosphorus atoms into the silicon crystal lattice really spices things up. This process is called ion implantation and it’s one of the fundamental processes used to make microchips.Since we launched new ion implantation technology today, in the form of the Applied Varian VIISta® Trident high current system, it seems a good time to take a closer look at the fundamentals of ion implantation