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Tyndall National Institute create first junctionless transistor

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March 16, 2010

Transistor architecture developed by Tyndall researchers uses a control gate around a sili...

Transistor architecture developed by Tyndall researchers uses a control gate around a silicon nanowire to restrict current flow

A team of scientists at the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, Ireland has created what they claim is the world's first junctionless transistor. The invention represents a breakthrough in transistors and nanoelectronics, and has the potential to revolutionize microchip manufacturing.

The approach uses a control gate around a silicon nanowire to control the passage of electrons without the use of junctions.

The Tyndall team, led by Professor Jean-Pierre Colinge, says the transistors are relatively easy to make and could help to extend Moore's law and reduce manufacturing costs.

The transistor is the fundamental building block in electronic devices. On silicon computing chips, the number of transistors reflects the relative amount of processing power the chip has. Since the 1970s the number of transistors built on a silicon chip has grown from just a few hundred to more than two billion transistors on a single chip. Today’s electronic devices are driving the need for more transistors on each chip, while also requiring semiconductor chips that are smaller, more energy efficient, and more cost effective. The conventional transistor architectures used for the last 40 years can no longer keep up with this demand.

Current transistors are based on junctions, which are formed by placing two pieces of silicon with different polarities side-by-side. Controlling the junction allows the current in the device to be switched on and off. Fitting more transistors on a chip requires more precise fabrication methods, which greatly increases the cost of the chip.

Tyndall’s transistor architecture eliminates the junctions and instead uses a control gate around a silicon nanowire to carry the current. The current flow is controlled by the control gate electrically “squeezing” the nanowire using an easy-to-fabricate ring structure. The Tyndall researchers were able to create silicon nanowire only a few dozen atoms in diameter using electron-beam writing techniques.

Colinge and his researchers say the architecture is compatible with current CMOS manufacturing processes, and expect that their design will prove particularly applicable in the manufacturing of transistors at the 10-nanometer scale. The team also believes that their junctionless devices have the potential to operate at faster and use less energy than the conventional transistors used in today's microprocessors.

Tyndall has been in discussions about the new technology with leading semiconductor companies around the world, and report a lot of interest in further development and possible licensing of the technology.

The research was published in Nature Nanotechnology.

For more information visit the Tyndall National Institute.

3 Comments

good to see something good (not to mention real!) after the embarrassment of steorn

taytokeane
17th March, 2010 @ 05:46 am PDT

"Current transistors are based on junctions"

Baloney! The computer you are reading this on contains a CPU chip with millions of non-junction transistors.

The Irish development is misreported. It sounds like a novel geometry for building field effect transistors (FET). Julius Edgar Lilienfeld proposed the basic principle behind the MOS field-effect transistor in 1925.

Junction transistors were developed at Bell Laboratories in 1947. They were used in early solid state computer designs, and continue to be used in other applications, but 99.9% of computer circuitry now uses FET technology.

splatman
28th March, 2010 @ 04:10 am PDT

This isn't even a new device geometry. It's called a 'finFET'. I've been researching them for a few years now, and some of the one's I've used were made in 2002/2003.

As for 'operating faster', the 45nm transistors used in a lot of modern processors have switching speeds heaps faster than is useful. I've seen talks from industry insiders that said moving back to 1GHz processors is where tech is heading. The decreased size of these finFETs, which means lower material cost and power consumption, are pretty much the only useful thing they have. Plus, when things get that small, you get a bunch of funky quantum stuff happening.

Samuel Thompson
8th April, 2010 @ 09:01 pm PDT
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