(Reuters) - Applied Materials Inc, the Santa Clara, California-based maker of tools for making semiconductors, on Monday introduced a new technology aimed alleviating a speed bottleneck in computer chips.
Computer chips are made up of switches called transistors that help them carry out the digital logic of 1s and 0s. But those transistors have to be connected together with a conductive metal to send and receive electrical signals.
That metal is usually tungsten, which chipmakers choose because it has a low electrical resistance and lets electrons move across it quickly.
While transistors have gotten smaller and faster, the connective areas between them still needed to be coated with several other materials before the tungsten. Those other materials added electrical resistance and slowed down the connections.
Applied said on Monday that it had developed a new process that eliminates the need for those other materials and uses only tungsten in the connections, speeding them up.
In a statement, Kevin Moraes, vice president of Applied’s semiconductor products group, said that chip features “are becoming so small that we are hitting the physical limits of conventional materials and materials engineering techniques.”
Applied said it had signed up “multiple leading customers worldwide” for the technology but did not disclose their names.
Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.