IBM researchers will present details tomorrow of a new manufacturing system that uses electron beams, instead of light waves, to etch circuits onto silicon chips, the company said.

The prototype system, developed in cooperation with Nikon, will eventually allow chip makers to create circuits that are more than 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, IBM said.

The companies have dubbed the process PREVAIL, for Projection Reduction Exposure with Variable Axis Immersion Lenses.

IBM researchers are due to describe the process tomorrow at a conference sponsored by the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) in Santa Clara, California.