The work will be presented at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting Dec. 11-13 by Dae-Hyun Kim. Kim is a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Jesus del Alamo, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science and member of MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL).
"Unless we do something very radical pretty soon, the microelectronics revolution that has enriched our lives in so many different ways might come to a screeching halt," said del Alamo.
The problem? Engineers estimate that within the next 10 to 15 years we will reach the limit, in terms of size and performance, of the silicon transistors key to the industry. "Each of us has several billion transistors working on our behalf every day in our phone, laptop, iPod, car, kitchen and more," del Alamo noted.
As a result, del Alamo's lab and others around the world are working on new materials and technologies that may be able to reach beyond the limits of silicon. "We are looking at new semiconductor materials for transistors that will continue to improve in performance, while devices get smaller and smaller," del Alamo said.
One such material del Alamo and his students at the MTL are investigating is a family of semiconductors known as III-V compound semiconductors. Unlike silicon, these are composite materials. A particularly hot prospect is indium gallium arsenide, or InGaAs, a material in which electrons travel many times faster than in silicon. As a result, it should be possible to make very small transistors that can switch and process information very quickly.
Del Alamo's group recently demonstrated this by fabricating InGaAs transistors that can carry 2.5 times more current than state-of-the-art silicon devices. More current is the key to faster operation. In addition, each InGaAs transistor is only 60 nanometers, or billionths of a meter, long. That's similar to the most advanced 65-nanometer silicon technology available in the world today.
"The 60-nanometer InGaAs quantum-well transistor demonstrated by Professor del Alamo's group shows some exciting results at low supply voltage (e.g. 0.5V) and is a very important research milestone," said Robert Chau, senior fellow and director of transistor research and nanotechnology at Intel, a sponsor of the work.
Del Alamo notes, however, that InGaAs transistor technology is still in its infancy. Some of the challenges include manufacturing transistors in large quantities, because InGaAs is more prone to breakage than silicon. But del Alamo expects prototype InGaAs microdevices at the required dimensions to be developed over the next two years and the technology to take off in a decade or so.
"With more work, this semiconductor technology could greatly surpass silicon and allow us to continue the microelectronics revolution for years to come," del Alamo said.
In addition to Intel, this research is sponsored by the Microelectronics Advanced Research Corporation. The MIT transistors were fabricated by pulling together the capabilities of three MIT laboratories: the Microsystems Technology Laboratories, the Scanning-Electron-Beam Lithography Facility and the Nanostructures Laboratory. Del Alamo notes that one reason for the exceptional performance of these transistors is the high quality of the semiconductor material, which was prepared by MBE Technology of Singapore.
Elizabeth A. Thomson | MIT News Office
Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created
28.10.2016 | Lomonosov Moscow State University
Steering a fusion plasma toward stability
28.10.2016 | American Physical Society
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences