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!
A hydrophobic membrane with nanopores for highly efficient energy storage
22.07.2016 | DWI - Leibniz-Institut für Interaktive Materialien
New reaction for the synthesis of nanostructures
21.07.2016 | Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ)
Munich Physicists have developed a novel electron microscope that can visualize electromagnetic fields oscillating at frequencies of billions of cycles per second.
Temporally varying electromagnetic fields are the driving force behind the whole of electronics. Their polarities can change at mind-bogglingly fast rates, and...
Breakup of continents with two speed: Continents initially stretch very slowly along the future splitting zone, but then move apart very quickly before the onset of rupture. The final speed can be up to 20 times faster than in the first, slow extension phase.phases
Present-day continents were shaped hundreds of millions of years ago as the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart. Derived from Pangaea’s main fragments Gondwana...
Scaffolding and specialised workers help with the delivery – Heidelberg biochemists gain new insights into biogenesis
A type of scaffolding on which specialised workers ply their trade helps in the manufacturing process of the two subunits from which the ribosome – the protein...
Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München have developed a new mass spectrometry imaging method which, for the first time, makes it possible to analyze hundreds of metabolites in fixed tissue samples. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Protocols, explain the new access to metabolic information, which will offer previously unexploited potential for tissue-based research and molecular diagnostics.
In biomedical research, working with tissue samples is indispensable because it permits insights into the biological reality of patients, for example, in...
Chemists at the University of Basel have succeeded in using computer simulations to elucidate transient structures in proteins. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, the researchers set out how computer simulations of details at the atomic level can be used to understand proteins’ modes of action.
Using computational chemistry, it is possible to characterize the motion of individual atoms of a molecule. Today, the latest simulation techniques allow...
15.07.2016 | Event News
15.07.2016 | Event News
11.07.2016 | Event News
22.07.2016 | Information Technology
22.07.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
22.07.2016 | Life Sciences