Basic Limitations in Microcircuit Fabrication Technology

by I. E. Sutherland, C. A. Mead, Thomas E. Everhart

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Discusses some high-leverage research areas in microcircuit fabrication, not now receiving government or private support, where relatively small, advanced research efforts may have substantial payoff. Based on the fact that microcircuit fabrication has reached or almost reached limitations in both size and precision, the study focuses on a number of areas where progress can be made, identifying those adequately covered by existing programs and highlighting those where relatively little work is being done. The authors recommend four important research efforts aimed at: (1) making small devices; (2) measuring the limits of dimensional stability of silicon substrates and mask materials; (3) predicting the optimum feature size, die size, and wafer size, given the constraints of the newly evolving technology; and (4) understanding the system design implications of very-large-scale integrated circuits. "The potential for future capability is truly impressive," say the authors, who believe that the integrated circuit revolution has run only half its course and that a change in microcircuit complexity of four more orders of magnitude is highly probable.

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