Researchers at MIT have found a new way of making complex three-dimensional structures using self-assembling polymer materials that form tiny wires and junctions. The work has the potential to usher in a new generation of microchips and other devices made up of submicroscopic features, says the Institute.
Although similar self-assembling structures with very fine wires have been produced before, this is the first time the structures have been extended into three dimensions with different, independent configurations on different layers, the researchers say. Caroline Ross, the Toyota Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, says there has been “a lot of interest” among semiconductor researchers in finding ways to produce chip features that are much narrower than the wavelength of light — and hence narrower than what can be achieved using present light-based fabrication systems.
So far, the MIT team has only produced two-layer configurations, but Alfredo Alexander-Katz, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, says, “I think it would be feasible to go to three layers” while still maintaining full control over the arrangement of structures on each layer.
The work was supported by the Semiconductor Research Corporation, the FENA Center, the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative, the Singapore-MIT Alliance, the National Science Foundation, Tokyo Electron and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.