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IBM and 3M developing new types of adhesives to create 3D semiconductors

By Damir Beciri
10 September 2011

ibm-stacked-chipsIBM partnered with 3M in order to develop adhesives that can be used to package semiconductors into 3D semiconductors. In order to develop these densely stacked silicon “towers”, IBM will draw on their expertise in creating unique semiconductor packaging processes, and 3M will provide their expertise in developing and manufacturing adhesive materials.

The joint research tackles some of the hardest technical issues underlying the industry’s move to true 3D chip forms. The development of new adhesives has the goal to solve the problem related to conduction of heat through a densely packed stack of chips and enabling operation of heat-sensitive components such as logic circuits which aren’t on the edges of the layers in the middle.

“Today’s chips, including those containing ‘3D’ transistors, are in fact 2D chips that are still very flat structures”, said Bernard Meyerson, VP of Research, IBM. “Our scientists are aiming to develop materials that will allow us to package tremendous amounts of computing power into a new form factor – a silicon ‘skyscraper.’ We believe we can advance the state-of-art in packaging, and create a new class of semiconductors that offer more speed and capabilities while they keep power usage low – key requirements for many manufacturers, especially for makers of tablets and smartphones.”

Many types of semiconductors, including those for servers and games, today require packaging and bonding techniques that can only be applied to individual chips. 3M and IBM plan to develop heat dissipation adhesives that can be applied to silicon wafers, coating hundreds or even thousands of chips at a single time.

Such stacking would allow for dramatically higher levels of integration for information technology and consumer electronics applications. Processors could be tightly packed with memory and networking, for example, into a “brick” of silicon that would create a computer chip 1,000 times faster than today’s fastest microprocessor enabling more powerful smartphones, tablets, computers and gaming devices.

“Capitalizing on our joint know-how and industry experience, 3M looks forward to working alongside IBM – a leader in developing pioneering packaging for next-generation semiconductors”, said Herve Gindre, division vice president at 3M Electronics Markets Materials Division. “3M has worked with IBM for many years and this brings our relationship to a new level. We are very excited to be an integral part of the movement to build such revolutionary 3D packaging.”

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