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In the ongoing process of miniaturization of logic and memory devices in electronic circuits, reducing the dimensions of interconnects –metal wires that link different components on a chip– is crucial in order to guarantee fast response of the device and improve its performance.

Research efforts have been focused on developing materials with excellent insulating properties to separate the interconnects from each other. Suitable materials should serve as a diffusion barrier against migration of metals into semiconductors and be thermally, chemically, and mechanically stable.

The quest for such a heavily insulating material has driven the semiconductor industry for at least the past 20 years. Whenever materials with the desirable characteristics were reported, they systematically failed to be successfully integrated in interconnects due to poor mechanical properties, or insufficient chemical stability upon integration, causing reliability failures. 

Graphene Flagship researchers at ICN2, Spain, and the University of Cambridge, England, collaborated with the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, Korea, to prepare and study ultrathin films of amorphous boron nitride (a-BN) with extremely low dielectric characteristics, high breakdown voltage, and superior metal barrier properties. This newly fabricated material has great potential as an interconnect insulator in the next-generation of electronics circuits.

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Category: Science
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