back to article Berkeley boffins save Moore's Law

Berkeley researchers think they have found a way to keep Moore's Law in action and get chip features down to the sub-10 nanometre level. Currently Moore's Law looks stymied once chip features shrink to 35nm as a diffraction limit will prevent light beams or waves being used to create features smaller than that. This means that …


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  1. F Seiler


    "lens, a 100nm one" ... "flies 200nm above" ...

    "If the lens were a Boeing jumbo jet, it would be flying 2mm above ground level"


    I thought jumbo jets were larger than 1mm,

    or was that analogy unrelated to the size/altitude (to what did it refer *then*?)

  2. Chris G


    That, at 100 times denser than a Blu-ray is around 35 Gb on a disc, not bad.

  3. Neil Hoskins

    What became of...

    ...X-ray lithography, which we were reading about twenty years ago. Really, I'm interested if anybody knows.

  4. Chris Richards


    Is that really a word? Perhaps I should just be glad it's an s rather than a z.

  5. Tom

    This could cause problems

    for Microsoft to write an OS to slow these machines to the point of uselessness.

    We should coin a Gates law - 'Whatever Moores law can do we can undo in the OS'

    I installed w98 on my 64 bit machine 'for a laugh' recently - almost instant boot and Open Office ran like a rocket. But I dont create WOD's so its back to Linux!

  6. Robert Ramsay


    That is all. Thank you. Try the fish.

  7. Marvin the Martian


    Been hanging round /b/ too much lately? Or is this verbification part of larger trendage?

  8. Frank
    Thumb Up

    Nice Development

    "..The lens flies 200nm above the substrate which revolves beneath it - imagine something like a vinyl disk recording arm - and uses microscopic scale aircraft wing technology to remain in flight."

    I'd prefer to imagine a hard drive recording arm since that is the principle it's based on. This is like a combination of a hard drive and a DVD writer. The DVD development people may have thought of something like this but didn't pursue it because they didn't have the fancy plasmonic lens to give the tight track/data packing.

    Hopefully we can look forward to a few more years of Moore's Law in action and one day I'll be able to put my 300GB video/audio/picture collection onto a single shiny silver disk.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    In the not-too-distant future...

    He worked in Plasmonic Institute, just another face in a red jumpsuit - he did a good job, cleaning up the place, but his bosses didn't like him so they shot him into space.

  10. James Pickett

    Product placement

    "If the lens were a Boeing jumbo jet, it would be flying 2mm above ground level"

    As opposed to what other sort of jumbo jet..?

  11. Craig Graham


    5nm is about 10 silicon atoms. Okay they can make it, but at some point things just aren't gonna work any more- for a start they'll leak. More fundamentally, band structure is assumed for bulk semiconductor and emerges from the large scale periodicity of the lattice. Make the lattice very small and I suspect you won't be able to make a transistor any more. Might bring in interesting things like quantum wire interconnect.

  12. Adam Foxton
    Thumb Up

    Isn't the problem at that scale

    electrons tunnelling and shorting out tracks (or their teeny tiny nm equivalents)?

    I mean it's all good and well creating this lens and being able to etch the silicon correctly, but if you can't reliably pass a current along one track without the electrons "leaking" onto another track you're never going to have a working processor!

    Still, bloody impressive bit of lensing, guys!


    "microscopic scale aircraft wing technology"

    Didn't properly read the article, are you saying that they are making chips from Airfix?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...but 'productisation' isn't a real word.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    @F Seiler

    And I thought jumbo jets were shorter than 40,000 feet tall.

    @James Pickett

    Because Airbus isn't a company so much as a multinational government project and El Reg wants to support capitalism, not politically-inspired-pretend-capitalism. I applaud you, El Reg!

    @the word-tards

    Boo yah!

  16. Elmer Phud

    Mumbo Jumbo

    'Jumbo' was one plane originally but now has a more generic meaning.

    As El Reg has published a list of VI Units (the V is for 'Vulture') then the model of Jumbo should be specified.

    (Not wishing to be nicked by Greek police, I'm not in to plane spotting but I'm sure there's someone out there who could assist in defining the actual aircraft in question.)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @James Pickett

    Maybe a (Lockheed) L1011?

  18. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    bollocks to everybody...

    productization is as good a word as any other. Better than a lot cos it's transparent.

    Don't worry about nanometers any more, they'll soon be using atomic drills to etch quarks. Yay for Moore's law.

    Of course there'll be a hiatus (non-transparent word) of some years until the present over-production crisis has run its course and we have either another boom or socialism worldwide.

    Sleep tight and sweet dreams!

    (Paris, well dunno about tight, but at least sweet :-)

  19. Eugene Goodrich

    Moore's law won't end until...

    Moore's law won't _really_ end until people at least start describing it correctly for a start.

  20. wayne


    My mind wouldn't parse that spelling, I read it as ProductStation, something like a PlayStation that makes products out of ideas. Wasn't far off.

  21. Simon Taylor

    Todays technology

    Im not sure if its exactly true, but surely todays processor technology currently exceeds moores law, it doesn't take as long as 18 months for new chips to double in capacity/power.

    Maybe it did in the 90s when most computers used Pentiums/Celerons or AMD K6 processors.

    Then around the time the Pentium 4s / Socket A Athlons came out, computers started to get ever increasingly more powerful/faster to this day.

  22. Chris Mellor

    Corrections needed

    Christopher Scholz writes: I enjoyed the article on extending microlithography into the sub-10 nanometer range, but I feel I must correct you on a few things. Firstly, in the article you mentioned that light is used to harden a photoactive, etch-resistant film. While so-called "positive" photoresists do exist, they are very infrequently used in micro-fabrication industry, being reserved for larger items like circuit boards and lithographic prints. The problem with them lies in the fact that their primary mode of action is polymeric chain linkage. As the polymer chains grow in size and begin to intertwine, the resist film begins to swell. As this happens, it changes the ultimate size of features due to swelling laterally, and alters the focus and exposure dose characteristics non-linearly in the up-down direction. As I'm sure you can imagine, a change of only a couple nanometers is a huge swing when you're talking about <11nm features.

    In the industry we use "negative" resists. Their primary mode of action is a softening of the film where light hits by "chain-scission". This makes the film easier to dissolve and wash away with a developing compound such as TMAH (Tetramethylammonium hydroxide). In order to keep the film in place during exposure, it is first soft baked. After exposing, a hard bake firms up the film even more, and advances the reaction in areas exposed to light to make the TMAH (or like developer) more effective.

    Secondly, while reducing feature size below 11nm is theoretically possible, quantum effects begin to take over and the microchip as we know it will no longer be possible. The problem lies in quantum effects of electrons. At 11nm, it's no longer possible to predictably contain an electron within a gate channel. Tunneling effects become significant enough to make the narrowing of transistors a futile effort.

    It's interesting technology, but I personally don't believe it will be useful in extending Moore's Law. Perhaps "Otellini's Maxim?" Even if this does allow us to double the count of transistors per die unit area, it will probably take more than 18 months from the previous node reduction.

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