Theme 1: Materials Discovery for Next-Generation Electrical and Optical Interconnects

Theme Leader: Qing Cao

Energy consumption and delay associated with interconnects have become a crucial bottleneck for the performance improvement of computer chips, especially for data-intensive applications.

We seek innovative ideas to discover material options for future electronics beyond the copper interconnect and the porous organosilicate glass low-k dielectrics currently used in state-of-the-art microprocessors and classical optical waveguides. Specifically, we are looking for strategies to advance material designs beginning with computational efforts at the smallest appropriate length scale, such as electronic, atomic, molecular, nano-, micro-, and meso-scale, possibly augmented by AI methods, to provide predictive or fundamental insight that will work effectively in concert with experimental efforts to discover:

  1. New conductive materials with better scalability and reliability against electromigration compared to copper.
  2. New dielectrics with lower dielectric constant but higher mechanical robustness compared to porous organosilicate glass.
  3. New optical interconnect materials and concepts with better scalability.

The development of new tools and processes to deposit and pattern these new materials on wafer scale, and new metrology methods to characterize the material structures, properties, and reliability should also be included in the successful proposal.