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Researchers see new device as path to sub-10 nm circuits

Employing an ultrathin dielectric composed of a 4-nanometer-thick layer of lanthanum aluminate with an ultrathin, 0.5-nanometer layer of aluminum oxide, Purdue University's nanowire transistor of indium-gallium-arsenide (IGA) reaches an important milestone of a 20 nm gate size.

Currently Intel Corp. (INTC) uses a 22 nm process for its Ivy Bridge silicon-based transistors.

The new IGA transistor, like Intel's fin shaped 3D transistors, employs a three-dimensional gate design, but it takes it even a step farther, creating a bizarre stackable design of triple-tapering nanowires that looks like a tiny pine tree.  

Peide "Peter" Ye, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University, has an interesting name for his new device -- "the 4D transistor".  He comments, "A one-story house can hold so many people, but more floors, more people, and it's the same thing with transistors.  Stacking them results in more current and much faster operation for high-speed computing. This adds a whole new dimension, so I call them 4-D."

4D Transistor
A series of "4D" transistors [Image Source: Purdue]

He says the superior electron mobility of the new transistor allowed the novel design, and may allow even more ambitious successors.

The new work was published in a pair of papers [PDF] to be presented at the International Electron Devices Meeting on Dec. 8-12 in San Francisco.

Currently the silicon chipmaking industry is in an uncertain state.  14 nm chips are expected for 2015, while researchers hope to shrink to 10 nm by 2018.  But past 14 nm, leakage in current "high K" dielectrics will become to severe for the transistor to operate; hence to stay on course for 2018 researchers must race to discover new dielectrics.

Squeezing past 10 nm will be even trickier, as it's pushing the boundaries of the already strained optical lithography techniques.  Advanced techniques like self-assembly or mechanical manipulation of atoms may prove crucial at features sizes below 10 nm.

Sources: Purdue, Eurekalert

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yule tree transistor
By Silver2k7 on 12/6/2012 6:24:46 PM , Rating: 2
Its interessting news and nice timing for pine tree shaped yule transistors :P

But the fourth dimension. Isn't that supposed to be time? The 4D in the name feels wrong.

RE: yule tree transistor
By sixteenornumber on 12/6/2012 6:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
The 4D in the name feels wrong.

I couldn't agree with you more. Adding another field to the already 3d transistor and calling it 4d sort of makes sense but it's horrible at the same time. This is along the same lines as describing computers with the word "cyber" NO!

RE: yule tree transistor
By inighthawki on 12/6/2012 9:42:17 PM , Rating: 2
But the fourth dimension. Isn't that supposed to be time?

Depends on which theories you subscribe to. Some people call time the 4th dimension and wrap it all up nicely together as space-time, some theories don't.

RE: yule tree transistor
By SPOOFE on 12/7/2012 7:10:23 PM , Rating: 2
Time is a dimension, just as length/width/height are dimensions, but a "dimension" is just an aspect of a thing, usually but not exclusively in reference to some measure of that thing. "How hot" in relation to hot sauce is a dimension, or "body temperature" another dimension if you're some criminologist or something and trying to determine a time of death.

L/W/H and T are just extremely common dimensions as it pertains to gauging and observing our existence, and "three-dimensional" is the way we describe the sort of space we apparently seem to inhabit (with time as "the fourth" to allow for perpetuity of that space).

RE: yule tree transistor
By Concillian on 12/8/2012 2:51:25 PM , Rating: 2
But the fourth dimension. Isn't that supposed to be time? The 4D in the name feels wrong.

I suspect reading the actual paper and being more familiar with the area of research would result in context that would suggest they are not talking about the traditional spatial relation "dimensions".

As an example, "dimensions" are unlimited in matrix mathematics. It's only when specifically discussing spatial dimensions that you are limited to 3D.

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