Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

More energy efficient transistors through quantum tunneling

27.03.2012
Researchers at the University of Notre Dame and Pennsylvania State University have announced breakthroughs in the development of tunneling field effect transistors (TFETs), a semiconductor technology that takes advantage of the quirky behavior of electrons at the quantum level.

Transistors are the building blocks of the electronic devices that power the digital world, and much of the growth in computing power over the past 40 years has been made possible by increases in the number of transistors that can be packed onto silicon chips.

But that growth, if left to current technology, may soon be coming to an end.

Many in the semiconductor field think that the industry is fast approaching the physical limits of transistor miniaturization. The major problem in modern transistors is power leakage leading to the generation of excessive heat from billions of transistors in close proximity.

The recent advances at Notre Dame and Penn State—who are partners in the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery (MIND)—show that TFETs are on track to solve these problems by delivering comparable performance to today's transistors, but with much greater energy efficiency.

They do this by taking advantage of the ability of electrons to "tunnel" through solids, an effect that would seem like magic at the human scale but is normal behavior at the quantum level.

"A transistor today acts much like a dam with a moveable gate" says Alan Seabaugh, professor of electrical engineering at Notre Dame and the Frank M. Freimann Director of MIND. "The rate at which water flows, the current, depends on the height of the gate."

"With tunnel transistors, we have a new kind of gate, a gate that the current can flow through instead of over. We adjust the thickness of the gate electrically to turn the current on and off."

"Electron tunneling devices have a long history of commercialization," adds Seabaugh, "You very likely have held more than a billion of these devices in a USB flash drive. The principle of quantum mechanical tunneling is already used for data storage devices."

While TFETs don't yet have the energy efficiency of current transistors, papers released in December 2011 by Penn State and March 2012 by Notre Dame demonstrate record improvements in tunnel transistor drive current, and more advances are expected in the coming year.

"Our developments are based on finding the right combination of semiconductor materials with which to build these devices," says Suman Datta, professor of electrical engineering at Penn State University.

"If we're successful, the impact will be significant in terms of low power integrated circuits. These, in turn, raise the possibility of self-powered circuits which, in conjunction with energy harvesting devices, could enable active health monitoring, ambient intelligence, and implantable medical devices."

Another benefit of tunneling transistors is that using them to replace existing technology wouldn't require a wholesale change in the semiconductor industry. Much of the existing circuit design and manufacturing infrastructure would remain the same.

"Strong university research on novel devices such as TFETs is critical for continuing the rapid pace of technology development," said Jeff Welser, director of the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative. "Much of the industry recognizes that it will take collaborations with both academia and government agencies to find and develop these new concepts."

Two other partners in the MIND center—Purdue University and The University of Texas at Dallas—have made significant contributions to the development of TFETs through the development of key modeling and analytical tools.

The Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery (MIND) is one of four centers funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation's Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI). The goal of NRI and its university-based centers is to demonstrate novel computing devices capable of replacing the complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) transistor as a logic switch. Established in 2008, MIND is led by the University of Notre Dame and includes Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, and University of Texas-Dallas.

Alan Seabaugh | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nd.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective
14.12.2017 | The Optical Society

nachricht New ultra-thin diamond membrane is a radiobiologist's best friend
14.12.2017 | American Institute of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

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

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Guardians of the Gate

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>