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 ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records
16.01.2018 | Institut für Solarenergieforschung GmbH

nachricht A water-based, rechargeable battery
09.01.2018 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

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: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Polymers Based on Boron?

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered

18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>