PORTLAND, Ore. IBM Research claims to have fabricated the world's smallest SRAM bit cell with joint industry and university development partners. The SRAM bit cell, which was cast using 22 nanometer design rules, measures just 0.1 microns2.
The SRAM was developed with partners AMD, Freescale, STMicroelectronics, Toshiba and the University of Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE, Albany, N.Y.).
The previous world record for the smallest SRAM bit cell was established
by IBM in 2004 at 0.143 microns2 in an experimental 32-nm device. Since then, several engineering groups have questioned whether conventional architectures could be extended to the
22-nm node. IBM researchers assert than it can.
"Before the introduction of high-k metal gates, many questioned whether conventional device architectures could be extended to 22 nanometers, but now we have demonstrated that conventional scaling will still work," said Mukesh Khare, project manager at IBM Microelectronics.
"Our gate lengths were less than 25 nanometers, which was considered impossible just a few years ago," Khare said.
IBM was able to shrink the main features of its 22-nm transistors -- the gate length, the spacers and the contact that sits between adjacent gates -- and demonstrated that the devices can still be turned off, which was a major stumbling block in previous attempts at shrinking SRAM bit cells smaller than 0.143 microns2.
Unlike earlier versions,, the current 0.1 microns2 SRAM bit cells can be fabricated using tools appropriate for mass production.
"Our previous world record for smallest SRAM cell used e-beam lithography, which was a major achievement at the time. But is not a production tool. You can only fabricate about six wafers a day using e-beam lithography," said Bruce Doris, 22-nm device manager at IBM research. "We used conventional high-numerical-aperture immersion lithography."
The SRAM bit cells were fabricated at IBM's 300-mm research facility in Albany using a conventional six-transistor design. The experimental 22-nm device is two-generations removed from commercialization (IBM and its partners are currently manufacturing commercial devices at the 45-nm node). Before moving to 22 nm, the partners said they plan use high-k dielectrics and metal gates at 32 nm for what they say is the first time.
To fabricate the 22-nm device, IBM (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) and its partners used immersion lithography, high-k dielectrics and metal gate stacks. The transistors had gate lengths of less than 25 nm, used thin spacers, co-implants, very thin silicides and damascene copper contacts.
Details of the new SRAM bit cells will be announced during the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco in December.