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A diamond coat for chips.

Diamond is an excellent conductor of heat and a poor conductor of electricity. These properties would make diamond a useful material in the manufacture of integrated-circuit chips, if it were possible to produce paper-thin diamond films that could be used as electrical insulators. Recently, researchers at the Hitachi Research Laboratory in Japan took some of the first steps toward bringing diamond films into microelectronics.

The Japanese researchers, reporting their findings at last month's International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies (PAC CHEM '84) held in Honolulu, found that microscopic diamonds are produced when microwaves irradiate a mixture of methane and hydrogen gas. This treatment forces the gases to decompose to create a plasma of charged particles. Over a period of hours, tiny diamonds, not more than 30 micrometers in diameter, form on the surface of a solid support, such as a silicon wafer, set inside the microwave chamber.

The method, however, is far from ready for industrial application. The ideal conditions for producing diamonds have yet to be identified. Sometimes, for example, graphite and other types of carbon rather than diamonds are deposited, and depending on the position of the solid support, occasionally no deposit forms and silicon is etched away instead.
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Title Annotation:semiconductor chips
Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 26, 1985
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