GOLDEN, Colo. Isonics Corp. and Cypress Semiconductor Corp. announced today that they have signed a joint research and development agreement to explore the use of isotopically pure silicon-28 in semiconductor memory devices.
The joint program calls for Cypress to produce 0.25-micron CMOS memories on Isonics' isotopically pure silicon-28 wafers in order to compare the performance of the devices with those made on natural silicon wafers. Results are expected to be available in 9 to 12 months.
This is Isonic' second commitment in the past month from a major chip maker to test the properties of its silicon-28 wafers. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is also evaluating the production capabilities of this silicon technology.
"As memory speeds become greater, our goal is to define the best possible manner to manage that speed without the resultant heat becoming a performance issue," said Jose Arreola, vice president of research and development at Cypress (San Jose, Calif.). "The use of silicon-28 wafers has very real possibilities in this area and is an avenue that we are eager to explore."
Laboratory tests have shown that isotopically pure silicon-28 has 50 percent higher thermal conductivity than natural silicon, according to Isonics. This could lead to higher-density chips, in turn leading to higher performance and chip yields. The attractiveness of silicon-28 is that while it has improved properties over standard silicon, it can be used without any changes in existing semiconductor manufacturing processes.
"Isonics is encouraged that Cypress has recognized the potential advantage that silicon-28 could provide," said Stephen J. Burden, vice president of semiconductor materials at Isonics (Golden, Colo.). "We believe the better thermal conductivity of silicon-28 will favorably impact the performance of next-generation memory technologies, such as direct Rambus DRAM."