Bell Labs stamp cuts cost of Ics

Bell Labs stamp cuts cost of Ics
Tom Foremski Researchers at Bell Labs have developed a cheap way of manufacturing integrated circuits using a special rubber stamp. The technique can place the circuits on a variety of substrates including glass, plastic and metals, and could enable such products as flexible displays. The Bell Labs researchers make the reusable rubber stamps by pouring liquid rubber into a silicon mold containing the desired chip pattern. Once the rubber solidifies, it is peeled away to reveal the microscopic silicon relief pattern. “Techniques that use these rubber stamps and molds provide simple, low cost alternatives to conventional lithography,” said Bell Labs chemist John Rogers. “The techniques also may lead to novel applications because we can now print features on rough or curved surfaces, such as optical fibre, and on materials that are incompatible with standard lithographic techniques.” To make the chips, the rubber stamps use an organic ink stamped onto gold-coated plastic and the part not covered by the ink is etched away until the chip pattern remains. After stripping away the remaining ink, semiconductor material is deposited on the gold pattern that is left. This technique has produced 0.2?m features. A similar approach is being pursued by Professor Stephen Chou at Minnesota University. He has patterned a special pressure-sensitive resist by pushing a sculptured block directly onto a substrate – the cookie-cutter technique. When he talked to Electronics Weekly he predicted 50nm resolutions, but admitted there are many technological challenges still to be overcome.


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