The European Commission has launched a three-year research project to ensure transistor miniaturisation continues by developing high dielectric materials and processes.
Invest, the integration of very high-k dielectrics with silicon CMOS technology, is part of the Commission's fifth Framework programme on information society technologies. It is supported by IBM and Philips as well as smaller equipment manufacturers, research institutions and universities.
The research aims to find a material to replace silicon dioxide as the dielectric layer. SiO2 has been used for decades, but at geometries smaller than 0.13µm it loses its insulating properties and leaks current.
As well as examining alternative materials, the Invest programme will also consider manufacturing issues, device performance, reliability and compatibility with current CMOS technology. One particular focus will be on growing single-crystal layers directly on silicon using molecular beam epitaxy.