Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Breakthrough “Interface Tuning” is Macro Step for Microelectronics

13.06.2003


The ability to make atomic-level changes in the functional components of semiconductor switches, demonstrated by a team of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, North Carolina State University and University of Tennessee physicists, could lead to huge changes in the semiconductor industry. The results are reported in the June 13 issue of Science.


This image illustrates the concept of “Coulomb buffer,” the region between oxide (above) and silicon (below) in nanoswitches, that can be “tuned” through atomic-level manipulation for desirable semiconductor characteristics, an advance that benefits both researchers and manufacturers.



Semiconductor devices, the building blocks of computing chips that control everything from coffee makers to Mars landings, depend on microscopic solid-state transistors, tiny electronic on-off switches made of layers of metals, oxides and silicon. These switches stop and start the flow of electrons, and work themselves because of the microscopic interface between the oxide layer and the silicon layer, in the realm of individual atoms, where minute positive and negative charges determine semiconductor success or failure.

Until now, researchers – and the multibillion-dollar semiconductor industries they support – had to accept the limitations that each crucial interface contains.


But researchers at Oak Ridge, NC State and Tennessee have successfully learned to “tune” the atomic-level zone between substances, in a development that they call “a unifying concept for understanding and designing” this aspect of semiconductor physics. According to Dr. Rodney McKee at Oak Ridge, the concept arose from “a reformulation of the classic Schottky Barrier problem that will impact everything in semiconductor technology from laser diodes to field-effect transistors in high-speed logic.”

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science funded the team’s research. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a Department of Energy facility.

The atomic tuning, described in the paper “The Interface Phase and the Schottky Barrier for a Crystalline Dielectric on Silicon,” takes place in what Dr. Marco Buongiorno Nardelli, assistant professor of physics at NC State and one of the authors of the paper, has named the “Coulomb buffer.” Here, at the boundary between silicon and oxide, there is an interface phase that is neither silicon nor oxide but its own hybrid structure.

Buongiorno Nardelli, studying this interface phase at the atomic level using high-performance computer simulations, found that the fundamental basis for this tuning was in increasing or decreasing the electronic “dipole charge” – the microscopic arrangement of positive and negative charges at the interface.

The physicists’ sophisticated experiments demonstrated that the Schottky barrier – the boundary at the edge of a substance where electrons are confined, long considered an inflexible limitation – can in fact be manipulated, and that “barrier height” is, in Buongiorno Nardelli’s words, “no longer a problem, but an opportunity.”

According to the NC State physicist, who holds a joint appointment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the team’s work will “change common beliefs” in the field of semiconductor physics, and could open the way for smaller, faster and smarter computers.

And manufacturers, able to tune the atomic dipoles in the Coulomb buffer for specific electronic characteristics, may find that this discovery deep in the micro-regions enables macro-steps forward in efficiency and productivity.

Mick Kulikowski | NC State University
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu/news/press_releases/03_06/166.htm

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Linear potentiometer LRW2/3 - Maximum precision with many measuring points
17.05.2017 | WayCon Positionsmesstechnik GmbH

nachricht First flat lens for immersion microscope provides alternative to centuries-old technique
17.05.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>