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Wiring imperfect crystals.

Wiring imperfect crystals

Thin metal strands, only a few atoms thick, can be deposited within silicon wafers to create an extremely fine wiring network, say researchers at Ohio State University in Columbus. The key step involves bonding copper to tiny imperfections deliberately introduced into silicon crystals.

Metallurgical engineer William Clark and his colleagues start the process by welding together two thin slices of crystalline silicon. If the evenly spaced rows of atoms in the two slices are aligned precisely, then the crystals bond perfectly and the boundary disappears. But if the slices are even slightly misaligned, a grid of dislocations is formed at the boundary.

Clark and his team then coat the misaligned crystal sandwich's surface with a layer of copper. Heating the coated sandwich allows copper atoms to diffuse into the crystal's interior. The atoms tend to settle in the dislocations, creating a web of metal filaments.

Wires this small may have all sorts of unusual properties. "There is evidence for some rather strange diode behavior in arrays like this," says Clark. "It does funny things that you wouldn't expect." Yet unsolved is the problem of connecting such arrays to an electric circuit so that they can be used, perhaps for storing information.
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Title Annotation:silicon wafer research
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 12, 1986
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