Skip to main content

Using Self Assembly to Create Airgap Microprocessors

airgap presskit image

IBM today announced the first-ever application of a breakthrough self-assembling nanotechnology to conventional chip manufacturing, borrowing a process from nature to build the next generation computer chips.

The natural pattern-creating process that forms seashells, snowflakes, and enamel on teeth has been harnessed by IBM to form trillions of holes to create insulating vacuums around the miles of nano-scale wires packed next to each other inside each computer chip.

News releases
Date Title
03 May 2007 IBM Brings Nature to Computer Chip Manufacturing
03 May 2007 Made in IBM Labs: 10 Chip Breakthroughs in 10 Years

Images

  • 10 IBM Breakthroughs in 10 Years

    10 IBM Breakthroughs in 10 Years

    Date added: 03 May 2007

    10 IBM Breakthroughs in 10 Years -- Beginning with the use of copper for chip wiring, IBM has announced 10 semiconductor innovations over the course of 10 years that have enabled computers and many other kinds of electronic devices to become smaller, less expensive, more powerful, and more energy efficient. IBM today announced it has harnessed the natural tendency of materials to form patterns to create a vacuum between the miles of wires inside chips. This provides better insulation speeding performance and reducing power consumption.

  • IBM Airgap Microprocessor

    IBM Airgap Microprocessor

    Date added: 03 May 2007

    IBM Airgap Microprocessor -- IBM has created experimental versions of its latest POWER6 microprocessor using self-assembly techniques to create a vacuum between the miles of on-chip wiring. The company has moved self assembly out of the labs and into a commercial manufacturing environment. It expects to begin manufacturing servers based on airgap-technology in 2009.

  • Self Assembling Chips

    Self Assembling Chips

    Date added: 03 May 2007

    Self Assembling Chips -- IBM Fellow Dan Edelstein with an experimental version of IBM's latest-generation microprocessor. The chip uses a vacuum to insulate the miles of wiring that connect its millions of transistors. The "airgaps" were created using a self-assembly technology that creates a uniform pattern of trillions of nanoscale holes in a wafer. The technique draws on nature's ability to form intricate patterns such as snowflakes and sea shells.

  • IBM Airgap Microprocessor

    IBM Airgap Microprocessor

    Date added: 03 May 2007

    IBM Airgap Microprocessor -- This microprocessor cross section shows empty space in between the chip's wiring. Wires are usually insulated with a glass-like material. IBM has integrated self-assembly techniques, long confined to laboratories, with its manufacturing lines to create a test version of its latest microprocessors that use vacuum gaps to insulate the miles of nano-scale wire that connect hundreds of millions of transistors. The breakthrough reduces electrical interference, raises processor performance, and lowers energy consumption.


Contact(s) for the Press kit

Bruce McConnel
IBM Media Relations
914-766-4427 (o)
203-739-5462 (m)
wmcconn@us.ibm.com

Additional resources

Site links

Video

See how IBM's self-assembly technology creates a vacuum between chip wiring.

IBM Senior Vice President, Technology and Intellectual Property, John Kelly says airgap is important to both IBM and to the electronics industry.

IBM Senior Vice President, Technology and Intellectual Property, John Kelly discusses the role Albany NanoTech played in the airgap breakthrough.

IBM Fellow Dan Edelstein explains the concept behind self assembly.

IBM Fellow Dan Edelstein explains how self-assembly techniques can be used to solve many more semiconductor challenges.