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Silicon-Germanium Chip Sets New Speed Record

A silicon-germanium chip.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology say they have operated the world's fastest silicon-based device.

Credit: IBM

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers say they have operated a silicon-germanium (SiGe) transistor at 798 GHz fMAX, which makes it the world's fastest silicon-based device by about 200 GHz.

Although these operating speeds were achieved at extremely cold temperatures, the research suggests that record speeds at room temperature could be achieved in the near future, says Georgia Tech professor John D. Cressler. "The transistor we tested was a conservative design, and the results indicate that there is significant potential to achieve similar speeds at room temperature--which would enable potentially world changing progress in high-data-rate wireless and wired communications, as well as signal processing, imaging, sensing, and radar applications," Cressler says.

German research center IHP designed and fabricated the device, a heterojunction bipolar transistor made from a nanoscale SiGe ally embedded within a silicon transistor.

In SiGe technology, small amounts of germanium are introduced into silicon wafers at the atomic scale during the standard manufacturing process, substantially improving performance.

From Georgia Tech News Center
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