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Tunneling Transistors


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Gerhard Klimeck

Gerhard Klimeck, director of the Network for Computational Nanotechnology and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University.

Photo courtesy of Purdue University

The Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery is researching the development of tunneling transistors, which are comprised of elements from the third and fifth columns of the periodic table (III-V) and consume less energy and can be made smaller than silicon without degrading.

"III-V materials have been studied extensively," says Purdue University professor Gerhard Klimeck. "But they have not reached Intel or IBM because industry has been able to build transistors with silicon and it's expensive to completely retool."

Klimeck is researching tunnel field-effect transistors (TFETs) as an eventual replacement for complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor-based chips because they can theoretically perform the same number of operations while using less power. TFET devices can swing from using nearly no current to full current with a very steep slope.

Purdue researchers are using the Texas Advanced Computing Center's Ranger supercomputer and the National Center for Computational Science's Jaguar supercomputer to run simulations that have led to a greater understanding of the quantum and atomic-lever dynamics that effect III-V devices. "If you can switch from on to off in a smaller swing, you can reduce the whole swing from 0.9 volts, which we have today, to 0.5 or 0.4, volts, which is what we're aiming for," Klimeck says.

From Texas Advanced Computing Center
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