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SiLK Slips

IBM follows industry trend, chucks spin-on chip insulator

3 min read

The struggle between two radically different approaches to making insulating materials for integrated circuits has ended with a clear winner for the 90-nm generation of chips that began a full-scale rollout this year.

In September, IBM Corp. announced that it was switching from Dow Chemical's spin-on, polymer-based low- k dielectric material called SiLK to the rival small molecule chemical vapor deposition (CVD) technique. This followed a decision last spring by the world's second largest foundry, Taiwan-based United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), to drop SiLK in favor of the small-molecule CVD Coral process from Novellus Systems Inc. (San Jose, Calif.).

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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