UCL News


Scientists Achieve Silicon Breakthrough

6 July 2006

Scientists at UCL have discovered a technique that could change the way microprocessors are made and ultimately reduce the cost of computers.

The technique uses ultraviolet (UV) light to allow silicon oxide to be created at room temperature, instead of using furnaces heated at up to 1,200C.

Being able to produce processor materials in this way will speed up a crucial part of the process of making chips, says Professor Ian Boyd [UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering], one of the project leaders. …

"Silicon is successful in microchips because it is a cheap material to obtain and its natural oxide is used in many areas of chip design," he said. "Because the oxide normally grows slowly on the surface of silicon wafers, they are put into furnaces to speed-grow the necessary thickness at huge temperatures."

UCL's new method uses deep UV rays to create the necessary levels of oxide on the wafers in less than a minute, while staying at room temperature. …

James Brown, 'Computing'