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IBM Innovates Microchip Technology

In a breakthrough that changes the future of computer chip manufacturing, IBM researchers have discovered a way to make circuits on microchips even smaller.

Using optical lithography, the process used to print circuits on the chips, scientists in San Jose, Calif., have created the smallest, high-quality line patterns ever made. While the ridges on chips in mass production were previously 90 nanometers wide, the new ridges are only 29.9 nanometers. At the new size, the chip features approximate the dimensions of individual atoms and molecules.

This development in chip technology is a significant one, explains Dr. Robert Allen of IBM's Almaden Research Center, because it means that the industry "does not have to move to any expensive alternatives until absolutely necessary."

In fact, Dr. Allen says, "this result is the strongest evidence to date that the industry may have at least seven years of breathing room before any radical changes in chip-making technologies."

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