Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2021

Microchips: Smaller, more powerful and unrivaled

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Awarded the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for developing a technology for further miniaturization of microchips that is unrivaled around the world: Michael Kampmann, Martin Witt and Dr. Jacqueline Atanelov (from left to right).

©  Foto: Fraunhofer

Winners of the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2021:

Michael Kampmann and Martin Witt (Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology ISIT) 
Dr. Jacqueline Atanelov (IMS Nanofabrication GmbH)


Microchips: Smaller, more powerful and unrivaled


The evolution of microchips seemed to have reached its limits, as far as their size is concerned. Nevertheless, it is crucial that these small components become even smaller and more powerful so that many devices — including smartphones — can be developed even further. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology ISIT in Itzehoe and IMS Nanofabrication GmbH have now succeeded in pushing the existing boundaries when it comes to MEMS processing of a microsystem switching element which is at the core of an electron beam mask writer — a crucial piece of equipment in the production of the latest generation of microchips.

The only solution in the world that has shifted the existing limits stems from an innovative piece of technology: the electron multi-beam mask writer, developed by Vienna-based IMS Nanofabrication GmbH. The key element in this device comes from the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology ISIT. “Previously, it was only possible to achieve process sizes of just under ten nanometers on the chips — an atom is 0.1 nanometers — but the new manufacturing method makes process sizes of seven nanometers and less a possibility,” says Martin Witt from Fraunhofer ISIT. This is unrivaled around the world, meaning the electron multi-beam mask writer is currently the only technology that enables further miniaturization of the chips. The fact that “this technology enabled IMS Nanofabrication GmbH to achieve its market-leading position” was also praised by the jury for the 2021 Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize, who gave the award to Michael Kampmann and Martin Witt from Fraunhofer ISIT and Dr. Jacqueline Atanelov from IMS GmbH.