Chemist wins semiconductor award

Thursday, July 8, 2004
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DENTON (UNT), Texas - For the third consecutive year, Dr. Jeffry Kelber, Regents Professor of chemistry at the University of North Texas received the Semiconductor Research Corporation inventor recognition award for his computer chip research.  

The SRC is a consortium of North American companies dedicated to solving technical challenges required to sustain leadership in the global semiconductor industry. The consortium recognized Kelber's work in improving the processing of advanced integrated computer circuits.

Layers of metals, such as gold, silver, platinum, copper and ruthenium are required to produce computer chips. When exposed to heat and air, these metals can become contaminated, forming oxide scales similar to a copper sculpture forming in a glaze after aging in the sun. When computer metals are contaminated, they form oxide scales, causing roughness and impurities that impair their operation.

Kelber and his research team developed a way to protect chips from contamination with a treatment of iodine atoms on a ruthenium surface.  Ruthenium is a hard white metal which is being examined for use in microchips as a way to help integrate copper into a computer chip. By counteracting the formation of oxide scales, his method protects tiny copper wires that carry electronic signals between chip transmitters.

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