Arrowhead and Duke University Begin Work on Nanotubes to Replace Copper, the Semiconductor Industry's Weakest Link
"There is a burning need in the semiconductor industry for a new material to replace copper interconnects. We believe the Duke team has a unique solution to this problem," said R. Bruce Stewart, Arrowhead's president. "Our intention is to fund development of a CMOS compatible process at Duke over the next two years, and then partner with device manufacturers to integrate carbon nanotube-based interconnects into their manufacturing processes."
“There is a burning need in the semiconductor industry for a new material to replace copper interconnects. We believe the Duke team has a unique solution to this problem”
As consumer demand grows for smaller and faster chips, copper interconnects become more difficult and costly to fabricate. Also, copper's structural and electrical properties intrinsically degrade at smaller scales. The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors identifies the interconnect problem as one of the major roadblocks standing in the way of future chip fabrication.
A phenomenon known as electromigration threatens the reliability of nanometer-size copper interconnects. Electromigration causes internal and external cavities that lead to wire failure. Copper burns out at one million amps per square centimeter while nanotubes can carry up to a billion amps per square centimeter. Bundles of densely packed nanotubes can also have substantially lower resistance than copper. Although several players in the semiconductor industry have identified nanotubes as a prime candidate to replace copper, substantial challenges remain in synthesizing the materials and integrating them into chips.
"To our knowledge, corporate research groups have encountered recurring problems in the manufacturing strategies they have pursued," said Mr. Stewart. "We believe Dr. Liu and his research team at Duke have a completely different approach that could enable large volume manufacturing of nanotube interconnects in future chips."
This investment is the latest in a series that furthers Arrowhead's business model of funding university nanotech research and guiding it to the marketplace.
About Arrowhead Research Corporation
Arrowhead Research Corporation (www.arrowheadresearch.com) is a diversified nanotechnology company structured to commercialize products expected to have revolutionary impacts on a variety of industries, including materials, electronics, life sciences, and energy.
There are three strategic components to Arrowhead's business model:
-- Outsourced R&D Program: Arrowhead identifies patented or patent-pending technologies at universities or government labs and funds additional development of those technologies in exchange for exclusive rights to commercialize the resulting prototypes. Leveraging the resources and infrastructure of these institutions provides Arrowhead with a highly cost-effective development pipeline. Currently, Arrowhead is supporting efforts in stem cell technology, and nanosensors at the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University.
-- Commercialization Program: After prototypes have been sufficiently developed in the laboratories, Arrowhead forms or acquires majority-owned subsidiaries to commercialize the technology and provides the subsidiaries with strategic, managerial, and operational support. At present, Arrowhead owns majority interest in subsidiaries commercializing diverse technologies, including anti-cancer drugs, RNAi therapeutics, and compound semiconductor materials.
-- The Patent Toolbox: Arrowhead has acquired or exclusively licensed patents and patent applications covering a broad range of nanotechnology. The Company is actively seeking to add to this intellectual property portfolio.
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