MIT charts path to 1nm chips

May 21, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
MIT charts path to 1nm chips
A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and TSMC have shown the use of the semi-metallic bismuth as a key material for 2nm and 1nm chip-making technologies.

Researchers in the US and Taiwan have identified a material that can help develop chips on 2nm and 1nm process technology

The researchers at MIT and NTU are looking at 2D semiconductor materials such as monolayer transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) as the gate material at 2nm and 1nm process nodes, but making a connection has been a challenge. The key problem is the metal-induced gap states (MIGS) which lead to high contact resistance and poor current-delivery capability.

Imec in Belgium is also researching TMD materials and has shown that ruthenium could be used at 2nm, but this metal is rare and expensive.

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The research with National Taiwan University (NTU) was submitted to Nature in July 2020 with extensive peer review only published this week. It shows bismuth allows for an ultralow contact resistance of 123 mΩ μm and an record high on-state current density of 1,135 μm on monolayer MoS2. The bismuth can be used with various monolayer TMD semiconductors including MoS2, WS2 and WSe2.

This is a key step in the development of a 1nm process technology but claims of a breakthrough, which do not come from the researchers, are overstated. It comes after IBM showed a full test chip developed on a 2nm process using a nanosheet transistor design from its research lab at the Albany Nanotech Complex in Albany, NY. However this is not expected to be in production until 2027. TSMC expects to have its 3nm gate-all-around (GAA) process ramping up in 2022 with the 2nm GAA version in R&D.

Shen, PC., Su, C., Lin, Y. et al. Ultralow contact resistance between semimetal and monolayer semiconductors. Nature 593, 211–217 (2021);;

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Performance projection of Bi–monolayer TMD technology Courtesy: MIT

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