Electronic chips are typically made from three types of materials: conductors (metals), insulators (dielectrics) and semiconductors.
Recently Intel announced their new TigerLake CPU highlighting two material advances outside of the transistor.
First, they improved the conducting metal stack, which is the metal interconnect between various layers to transistors on the “ground floor”. Using material engineering, Intel improved the resistance of the metal stack by depositing improved thin insulators (dielectric barriers) which helped to shorten the metal path and so reduce the overall resistance.
Next, they worked on changes to improve their dielectric components such as capacitors. In the top layers of the metal stack, it is common to create Metal-Insulator-Metal, or MIM capacitors to realize these vital passive components. By using a superlattice (an alternating sandwich) of different insulators – in this case different HiK dielectrics, Intel has engineered a more effective insulator which results in 4x higher MIM capacitance.
In contrast to the two Intel technologies, Atomera’s MST is a semiconductor material technology, typically used to improve the performance of transistors. All of these material innovations help the industry to keep moving forward to achieve cost effective, higher performance and lower power solutions for tomorrow’s electronics.