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News hardware & software 22 May 2021, 18:34

author: Arkadiusz Strzala

TSMC Made Great Progress With 1nm Chips

TSMC and its partners are working on 1nm processor manufacturing technology. This lithography may be another breakthrough in the miniaturization and energy efficiency of chips.

  • TSMC is working on 1nm processor manufacturing together with researchers from MIT and NTU;
  • They have discovered ways to overcome the technology barriers that prevent using 1nm and smaller lithographies.

IBM recently announced the first processors (engineering samples) manufactured in 2 nm lithography. While this seemed improbable, it is not the absolute limit of chip miniaturization. TSMC, together with researchers from Taiwan National University (NTU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), are working on even higher density electronic components. They have managed to solve several problems related to electrical phenomena, paving the way for the production of 1 nm transistors and smaller.

With progressing miniaturization of circuits, science is facing more and more new problems. In electronic components made in lithographies smaller than 2 nm, the so-called metal-semiconductor junction becomes prominent. Increasing resistance in their microscopic contacts leads to a significant reduction in the performance of such circuits. However, researchers have discovered that the use of semi-metallic bismuth as the electrode material of a transistor sufficiently improves the electrical parameters so that further reduction of their size is possible while maintaining appropriate properties.

To take advantage of the discovery, the scientists will need to use a helium ion beam (HIB) lithography system and design an 'easy deposition process'. So far, only R&D production lines can being used for the process, so it is not yet close to becoming a mass production technology. The implementation of 1nm processors remains a thing of undefined future. However, it is good to know that new discoveries can continue to push the limits of silicon chip capabilities.

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