UNT chemistry professor sees invisible problems

Thursday, June 7, 2018 - 13:16

DENTON (UNT), Texas – University of North Texas professor Oliver Chyan has developed a way for microchip manufacturers to see flaws in their chips that no one has ever seen before.

“Currently, when developing new microchips, chip makers use various combinations of materials and work through trial and error. If one part of a chip doesn’t work, they will try various fixes without really understanding the underlying chemistry problem,” said Chyan. “The scale of the microchip is so incredibly small, fractions of nanometers, that researchers literally don’t have the ability to see the fault in the chip. But, that’s about to change.”

In developing his patented technology, Chyan realized that chip failure is not necessarily an engineering problem but a chemistry problem. At the nano scale, chemical reactions take place between atoms that do not happen on the macro scale. These reactions will take place directly between molecules of different materials where they come in contact with one another. Chyan refers to this as chemical bonding at the interface.

“The chemical bonding process is fragile,” he added. “If the materials are not compatible, or there is a foreign material introduced into the chip’s creation, the chip will not work. Through highly sensitive infrared spectroscopy, it is possible to see which chemical bonds succeed and which fail. This gives chip makers the ability to focus their designs using reliable hard data rather than trial and error.”

Chyan said that this new technology will revolutionize how chips are manufactured and lead to smaller chips and faster computing times.

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