The term high-κ dielectric refers to a material with a high dielectric constant κ (as compared to silicon dioxide) used in semiconductor manufacturing processes which replaces the silicon dioxide gate dielectric. The implementation of high-κ gate dielectrics is to allow further miniaturization of microelectronic components, colloquially referred to as extending Moore's Law.
Need for high-κ materials
Silicon dioxide has been used as a gate oxide material for decades. As transistors have decreased in size, the thickness of the silicon dioxide gate dielectric has steadily decreased to increase the gate capacitance and thereby drive current and device performance. As the thickness scales below 2 nm, leakage currents due to tunneling increase drastically, leading to unwieldy power consumption and reduced device reliability.
Use in industry
In early 2007, Intel announced the deployment of hafnium-based high-k dielectrics in conjunction with a metallic gate for components built on 45 nanometer technologies, and has shipped it in the 2007 processor series codenamed Penryn. At the same time, IBM announced plans to transition to high-k materials, also hafnium-based, for some products in 2008.
Conventional silicon dioxide gate dielectric structure compared to a potential high-k dielectric structure.