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Modified Household Microwave Oven Overcomes 2nm Semiconductor Hurdle

Scientists at Cornell University have used a modified home microwave oven to help overcome a critical obstacle to practical 2nm semiconductor production. The resulting microwave annealer is inspired by his TSMC theory on silicon doping with microwaves and phosphorus. As a result, semiconductor manufacturers have been able to exceed previous phosphorus concentration limits using newly devised equipment and techniques.

As semiconductor processes continue to shrink, silicon must be doped with increasingly higher concentrations of phosphorus to facilitate accurate and stable current delivery. As it stands, as the industry begins mass-producing his 3nm components, traditional annealing methods still work. But beyond his 3nm, the industry needs to ensure a phosphorus concentration higher than the equilibrium solubility in silicon. Consistency is essential not only for achieving higher concentration levels, but also for manufacturing functional semiconductor materials.

TSMC had previously theorized that microwaves could be used in the annealing (heating) process to increase the phosphorus doping concentration. However, microwave heating sources previously tended to generate standing waves, which adversely affected heating consistency. Simply put, previous microwave annealing equipment heated the contents unevenly.

(Image credit: Cornell University)

Cornell University scientists were supported by TSMC and Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology to conduct research on microwave annealing. In the resulting scientific paper shared by Cornell University earlier this week, the scientists said they “overcame the fundamental challenge of high stable doping over solubility” thanks to advanced microwave annealing methods. concluded.

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