Stemming from the researchers' work on 2D materials like graphene, the material - called amorphous boron nitride (a-BN) - is derived from "white graphene," which includes boron and nitrogen atoms arranged in a hexagonal structure. However, say the researchers, the molecular structure of a-BN is uniquely distinctive from that of white graphene, and offers a "best-in-class" ultra-low dielectric constant of 1.78 with strong electrical and mechanical properties, making it usable as a semiconductor interconnect isolation material to minimize electrical interference.
"[The] decrease in processing speed due to increased resistance and capacitance delay is a major obstacle for the down-scaling of electronics," say the researchers in a paper on the finding. "Minimizing the dimensions of interconnects (metal wires that connect different electronic components on a chip) is crucial for the miniaturization of devices."
Semiconductor interconnects are isolated from each other by non-conducting (dielectric) layers. So far, say the researchers, research has mostly focused on decreasing the resistance of scaled interconnects because integration of dielectrics using low-temperature deposition processes compatible with complementary metal–oxide–semiconductors is technically challenging.
However, it was also demonstrated that amorphous boron nitride can be grown on a wafer scale at a low temperature of just 400°C, enhancing the compatibility of graphene with silicon-based semiconductor processes. Thus, say the researchers, amorphous boron nitride is expected to be widely applied to semiconductors such as DRAM and NAND solutions, and especially in next-generation memory solutions for large-scale servers.
“Recently, interest in 2D materials and the new materials derived from them has been increasing," says Seongjun Park, Vice President and Head of Inorganic Material Lab, SAIT. "However, there are still many challenges in applying the materials to existing semiconductor processes. We will continue to develop new materials to lead the semiconductor paradigm shift."
The study was conducted in collaboration with Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and the University of Cambridge. For more, see " Ultralow-dielectric-constant amorphous boron nitride ."