Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology, international semiconductor consortium SEMATECH and Texas State University have demonstrated that use of new methods and materials for building integrated circuits can reduce power—extending battery life to 10 times longer for mobile applications compared to conventional transistors.
The key to the breakthrough is a tunneling field effect transistor. Transistors are switches that control the movement of electrons through material to conduct the electrical currents needed to run circuits. Unlike standard transistors, which are like driving a car over a hill, the tunneling field effect transistor is more like tunneling through a hill, says Sean Rommel, associate professor of electrical and microelectronic engineering.
In order to accurately observe and quantify these current levels, a fabrication and testing procedure was performed at RIT. Pawlik developed a process to build and test vertical Esaki tunnel diodes smaller than 120 nanometers in diameter, Rommel explains. This procedure allowed the researchers to measure hundreds of diodes per sample. Because of the nanometer-scale devices tested, the researchers were able to experimentally observe currents substantially larger than any previously reported tunneling currents.
Esaki tunnel diodes, discovered in 1957 and the first quantum devices, were used to create a map showing output tunnel currents for a given set of material systems and parameters. For the first time, researchers have a single reference to which they can compare results from the micro- to the mega-ampere range, Rommel adds.
“This work may be used by others in designing higher performance tunneling field effect transistors which may enable future low power integrated circuits for your mobile device,” he says.
This story is reprinted from material from Rochester Institute of Technology, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.