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As the semiconductors that power the chips and lasers responsible for computing information shrink down to the nano-scale, they produce higher levels of electrical resistance and capacitance that ultimately slow performance. In recent years a research team, led by University of Toronto professors Doug Perovic (MSE) and Geoffrey Ozin of the Department of Chemistry, has been seeking to solve this problem by creating a new class of materials.

The material, known as periodic mesoporous organosilica (PMO), is a thin nano-porous film. It was created by mixing an organosilica precursor containing organic groups with a surfactant in an aqueous solution which causes the organosilica to self-assemble into a nano-structure. When the surfactant was washed away, it left a nano-porous material,  which the researchers discovered made an excellent dielectric material that could significantly improve the speed and reduce crosstalk of information transferred between the tiny wires inside microelectronic devices. The PMO acts as a better dielectric, allowing transistor components to shrink even further.

“We recently developed a vapour phase delivery technique, called vacuum assisted aerosol deposition (VAAD), and have investigated the properties most related to low-k [low dielectric constant] applications,” says materials chemistry PhD student Wendong Wang (Chemistry), who developed the technique. The PMO thin films used in the VAAD technique possess a combination of properties that satisfy the immediate and long-term
needs of the semiconductor industry.

In April, Wang presented the team’s research findings at the Materials Research Society’s spring meeting in San Francisco to overwhelming interest from industry. “Intel started calling us right away,” says Professor Perovic.

Follow the link to read the full article in Engineering Dimensions.

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