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New Prospects for Universal Memory

Printed Circuit Boards from Prototype to Production

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gration, changing its resistance. This makes the distribution of oxygen con- centration in the oxide film a crucial parameter, determining the func- tional properties of the memory cell. However, despite significant ad-

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vances in ReRAM development, flash memory shows no sign of losing ground. Flash memory allows for three-dimensional memory cell stack - ing, which enables a much greater storage density. In contrast to this, oxygen-deficient film deposition tech- niques normally used in ReRAM de- sign are not applicable to functional 3D architectures. In a bid to find an alternative

technique, MIPT researchers turned to atomic layer deposition, a chemical process by which thin films can be pro- duced on the surface of a material. During the last decade, ALD has be- come increasingly widespread, with numerous applications in nanoelec- tronics, optics and in the biomedical industry. There are two major advan- tages to atomic layer deposition. The first one is the unprecedented control over film thickness; it is possible to de- posit films that are several nanome- ters thick with an error of a fraction of a nanometer. The other advantage is that ALD enables conformal coating of 3D structures, which is problematic for most of the currently used nanofilm deposition techniques. In an ALD process, a substrate

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is sequentially exposed to two chemi- cals that are known as the precursor and the reactant. It is the chemical reaction between these two sub- stances that produces a coating lay- er. In addition to the element used in the coating, precursors contain other compounds — e.g., of carbon or chlo- rine — called ligands. They facilitate the reaction but,

in an ideal ALD process, have to be completely removed from the result- ing film once the interaction with the other chemical (reactant) has oc- curred. It is vital to choose the right substances for use in atomic layer deposition. Although it proves diffi- cult to deposit oxide films with vari- able oxygen concentration by ALD, they are essential for ReRAM. “The hardest part in depositing

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oxygen-deficient films was finding the right reactants that would make it possible to both eliminate the ligands contained in the metallic precursor and control oxygen content in the re- sulting coating,” says Andrey Mar- keev, a leading researcher at MIPT.

“We achieved this by using a tanta- lum precursor, which by itself con- tains oxygen, and a reactant in the form of plasma-activated hydrogen.” Confirming the experimental

findings turned out to be a challenge in itself. As soon as the experimental sample is removed from the vacuum chamber, which houses it during ALD, and exposed to the atmosphere, modifications are caused in the top layer of the dielectric, making it im- possible to detect oxygen deficiency using analytic techniques such as electron spectroscopy, which target the surface of the sample. r

Quasiparticles Could Lead to

Faster Circuits Continued from page 1

cles at extremely cold temperatures — down to about –450°F (–268°C). But Fei and his research group

worked at room temperature with the scanning near-field optical micro- scope in his campus lab to take nano- optical images of the quasiparticles. “We are the first to show a pic-

ture of these quasiparticles and how they propagate, interfere and emit,” he says. The researchers, for exam- ple, measured a propagation length of more than 12 µm for the exciton- polaritons at room temperature. Fei says that the creation of ex-

citon-polaritons at room temperature and their propagation characteristics are significant for developing future applications for the quasiparticles. One day they could even be used to build nanophotonic circuits to re- place electronic circuits for nanoscale energy or information transfer. Fei says that nanophotonic cir-

cuits with their large bandwidth could be up to one million times faster than current electrical cir- cuits. A research team led by Fei re- cently reported its findings in the sci- entific journal Nature Photonics. The researchers also learned that by changing the thickness of the

MoSe2 semiconductor, they could ma- nipulate the properties of the exci- ton-polaritons. This work could pro- vide the foundation for new devices, such as polariton transistors, Fei says. And that could one day lead to breakthroughs in photonic and quan- tum technologies. r

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Milpitas, CA — The latest update to the World Fab Forecast report, pub- lished on May 31, 2017 by SEMI, re- veals record spending for fab con- struction and fab equipment. Korea, Taiwan, and China all see large in- vestments, and spending in Europe will also increase significantly. In 2017, over $49 billion will be spent on equipment alone, a record for the semiconductor industry. Spending on new fab construction is projected to reach over $8 billion, the second largest year on record. Records will shatter again in 2018, when equip- ment spending will surpass $54 bil-

SEMI: Record Fab Spending for 2017 and 2018

July, 2017

lion, and new fab construction spend- ing is forecast at an all-time high of $10 billion. SEMI reports that these high

numbers are not only driven by a handful of well-known, established companies, but also by several new Chinese companies entering the scene. An increase in overall fab spending (construction and equip- ment together) of 54 percent year- over-year (YoY) in China is expected. Total spending rises from $3.5 billion in 2016 to $5.4 billion in 2017, and then to $8.6 billion in 2018, another 60 percent YoY increase. r

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