Calif., Nov. 4, 2005 -- Arrowhead Research Corp.
(Nasdaq:ARWR), a diversified nanotechnology company,
announced today that it will work with Duke University
and Dr. Jie Liu, a leading nanotube expert, to develop
nanotube-based interconnects as a replacement for
copper in computer chips. Arrowhead has agreed to
provide approximately $680,000 in funding over the
next two years to develop Dr. Liu's technology. In
exchange, Arrowhead will have the exclusive right
to license the resulting intellectual property and
commercialize the process developed at Duke.
"There is a burning need in the semiconductor
industry for a new material to replace copper interconnects.
We believe the Duke team has a unique solution to
this problem," said R. Bruce Stewart, Arrowhead's
president. "Our intention is to fund development
of a CMOS compatible process at Duke over the next
two years, and then partner with device manufacturers
to integrate carbon nanotube-based interconnects
into their manufacturing processes."
As consumer demand grows for smaller and faster
chips, copper interconnects become more difficult
and costly to fabricate. Also, copper's structural
and electrical properties intrinsically degrade at
smaller scales. The International Technology Roadmap
for Semiconductors identifies the interconnect problem
as one of the major roadblocks standing in the way
of future chip fabrication.
A phenomenon known as electromigration threatens
the reliability of nanometer-size copper interconnects.
Electromigration causes internal and external cavities
that lead to wire failure. Copper burns out at one
million amps per square centimeter while nanotubes
can carry up to a billion amps per square centimeter.
Bundles of densely packed nanotubes can also have
substantially lower resistance than copper. Although
several players in the semiconductor industry have
identified nanotubes as a prime candidate to replace
copper, substantial challenges remain in synthesizing
the materials and integrating them into chips.
"To our knowledge, corporate research groups
have encountered recurring problems in the manufacturing
strategies they have pursued," said Mr.
The Nanotube Connection
Stewart. "We believe Dr. Liu and his research
team at Duke have a completely different approach
that could enable large volume manufacturing of nanotube
interconnects in future chips."
This investment is the latest in a series that furthers
Arrowhead's business model of funding university
nanotech research and guiding it to the marketplace.
Dr. Jie Liu's research: