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Print 34 comment(s) - last by Autisticgramma.. on Dec 11 at 3:28 PM

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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RE: The scale of these always amazes me
By AnnihilatorX on 12/7/2012 8:42:55 AM , Rating: 2
The transistor in question is a indium-gallium-arsenide semiconductor, not silicon. I know what you mean though.

InGaAs semiconductors has been touted and touted to be much better than silicon in terms of performance, yet we never see it come mainstream, instead they are still specialised in high power / high frequency radio/communication circuits. Now graphene is touted to be the next gen. I am not sure if this research would see any real world use.


RE: The scale of these always amazes me
By Sivar on 12/8/2012 12:38:56 PM , Rating: 3
I work in the semiconductor field.

Gallium Arsenide is not likely to ever take over silicon other than for fringe products. While it has some advantages:

1) It is highly toxic.
2) It is rarer and much more expensive.
3) Silicon's thermal conductivity is almost 3x that of GaAs. It doesn't matter if you have smaller, faster transistors if you can't pack them even close to as tightly as with silicon.


By superstition on 12/9/2012 4:16:29 PM , Rating: 1
Are people going to eat the chips?

I bet there's less arsenic in a 20nm chip made this way than in a carton of eggs laid by chickens fed roxarsone feed.

Guess where that pretty pinkish color inside chicken at Indian restaurants comes from.

The expense doesn't seem as critical given the fact that the gallium indium arsenide is only being used in one layer.

"It doesn't matter if you have smaller, faster transistors if you can't pack them even close to as tightly as with silicon."

Well, this is a design that uses more than just gallium arsenide. It is conceivable that additional materials might be used that would improve conductivity. Building transistors at the atomic level provides a lot of options for dealing with the drawbacks.


By Autisticgramma on 12/11/2012 3:28:10 PM , Rating: 2
Additionally, significant Indium deposits are quite rare. (see commercially viable) The majority of indium captured as a derivative of zine manufacture, and is used for touch screens, because it can be made clear, and hold a charge.

It isn't anywhere near as available as silicon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indium

Cool stuff, just not revolutionary.


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