SAN JOSE, Calif. Novellus Systems Inc. here claimed a major breakthrough in the low-k dielectrics field, saying it has developed a new "chemical vapor" approach to enable chips with k values down to 1.7. The technology also has a material hardness that exceeds today's chemical vapor deposition (CVD) films, the company said.
Novellus' new low-k technology is not based on its current CVD tools, but rather a "novel non-PECVD" approach that makes use of a film with "structured pores," said Wilbert van den Hoek, chief technical officer and executive vice president of integration and advanced development at Novellus.
The breakthrough is significant in the emerging low-k market. It demonstrates that CVD-like approaches are able to devise chips with k values below 2, according to van den Hoek.
Some low-k providers, especially the spin-on glass community, claim the rival CVD films are unable to break this magical barrier. The spin-on camp claims to have achieved this barrier, but there are still major issues with the mechanical properties of the material.
"We have a completely novel approach," said van den Hoek. "It's not spin-on. It's a chemical process that involves in-situ on the wafer," he said in an interview with SBN.
The Novellus CTO did not elaborate, but noted the technology is still in the R&D stage and has yet to be commercialized. The company will present more details about the technology within the next year.
van den Hoek said the porous film can enable chips with k values down to 1.7with a material hardness that exceeds existing CVD flims. In doing so, the porous materials have some new properties. "The pores are structured," he said.
At present, Novellus claims to be one of the few companies with a low-k material in production. Novellus' current low-k offering, dubbed Coral, has been endorsed by Chartered, Fujitsu, Samsung and United Microelectronics Corp. Reports have surfaced that IBM Corp.'s Microelectronics Division is also evaluating and developing chips based on Novellus' low-k material.
Novellus competes in the low-k market against Applied, ASM International, Dow, JSR and Trikon, among others.