A new approach to integrated circuits, combining atoms of semiconductor materials into nanowires and structures on top of silicon surfaces, shows promise for a new generation of fast, robust electronic and photonic devices.
Engineers at the University of California, Davis, have recently demonstrated three-dimensional nanowire transistors using this approach that open exciting opportunities for integrating other semiconductors, such as gallium nitride, on silicon substrates.
"Silicon can't do everything," said Saif Islam, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis. Circuits built on conventionally etched silicon have reached their lower size limit, which restricts operation speed and integration density. Additionally, conventional silicon circuits cannot function at temperatures above 250 degrees Celsius (about 480 degrees Fahrenheit), or handle high power or voltages, or optical applications.
The new technology could be used, for example, to build sensors that can operate under high temperatures, for example inside aircraft engines.
"In the foreseeable future, society will be dependent on a variety of sensors and control systems that operate in extreme environments, such as motor vehicles, boats, airplanes, terrestrial oil and ore extraction, rockets, spacecraft, and bodily implants," Islam said.
Devices that include both silicon and nonsilicon materials offer higher speeds and more robust performance. Conventional microcircuits are formed from etched layers of silicon and insulators, but it's difficult to grow nonsilicon materials as layers over silicon because of incompatibilities in crystal structure (or "lattice mismatch") and differences in thermal properties.
Instead, Islam's laboratory at UC Davis has created silicon wafers with "nanopillars" of materials such as gallium arsenide, gallium nitride or indium phosphide on them, and grown tiny nanowire "bridges" between nanopillars.
"We can't grow films of these other materials on silicon, but we can grow them as nanowires," Islam said.
The researchers have been able to make these nanowires operate as transistors, and combine them into more complex circuits as well as devices that are responsive to light. They have developed techniques to control the number of nanowires, their physical characteristics and consistency.
Islam said the suspended structures have other advantages: They are easier to cool and handle thermal expansion better than planar structures — a relevant issue when mismatched materials are combined in a transistor.
The technology also leverages the well-established technology for manufacturing silicon integrated circuits, instead of having to create an entirely new route for manufacturing and distribution, Islam said.
The work is described in a series of recent papers in the journals Advanced Materials, Applied Physics Letters and IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology with co-authors Jin Yong Oh at UC Davis; Jong-Tae Park, University of Incheon, South Korea; Hyun-June Jang and Won-Ju Cho, Kwangwoon University, South Korea. Funding was provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the government of South Korea.
UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.
Andy Fell | Eurek Alert!
New material could lead to erasable and rewriteable optical chips
07.12.2016 | University of Texas at Austin
Porous crystalline materials: TU Graz researcher shows method for controlled growth
07.12.2016 | Technische Universität Graz
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences