EE Times reports several firms, including IBM and Intel, are exploring a new technology called co-polymer lithography:
Scientists at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have also made a major contribution to this field. UCSB claims to have developed a novel, self-assembly process for creating features on silicon that are between 5- and 20-nm.
Intel, IBM, UCSB and NSB funded the R&D. The university has already applied for patents on the new methods and it will retain ownership.
"We've come up with this new blending approach, called block co-polymer lithography, or BCP," said Craig Hawker, materials professor and director of the Materials Research Laboratory at UCSB, in a statement. "It essentially relies on a natural self-assembly process. Just like proteins in the body, these molecules come together and self assemble into a pattern. And so we use that pattern as our lithographic tool, to make patterns on the silicon wafer."