Kyoto, Japan - Japanese electronics giant Toshiba is heralding the return of germanium in a new semiconductor process that promises to be viable at 16nm - roughly half the size of today's state of the art technology.
While memory chips can currently be produced at 30nm and logic circuits at 42nm, Toshiba claims to have made a breakthrough in the use of strontium germanide to produce metal-insulator-semiconductor field-effect transistors, or MISFETs, at 16nm or below.
Germanium has long been known to offer the potential to build ever-smaller devices, but poses more implementation problems than silicon, which is rapidly approaching its design limit in terms of current handling capabilities.
Toshiba says its new process involves the use of strontium germanide as an interlayer and is evaluating the process to design 16nm chips and smaller. The company will present a paper on the process at the 2009 VLSI Symposia in Kyoto, Japan later this week.