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Nanoelectronics Engineers Develop Transistor that Overcomes Fundamental Power Limitations

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The structure of the newly developed tunnel field-effect transistor.

University of California, Santa Barbara engineers have demonstrated a new transistor that reduces power dissipation more than 90% compared to metal-oxide field-effect transistors.

Credit: University of California, Santa Barbara

Engineers at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) say they have made a breakthrough in addressing the fundamental power challenge of electronics.

In collaboration with Rice University, the team has reduced power consumption during transistor switching operation. The researchers have demonstrated a new transistor that switches at only 0.1 volts and reduces power dissipation by more than 90% compared to state-of-the-art metal–oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs).

The team employed the quantum-mechanical phenomenon of band-to-band tunneling to design a tunnel field-effect transistor with sub-60-mV per decade of subthreshold swing. "We restructured the transistor's source to channel junction to filter out high-energy electrons that can diffuse over the source/channel barrier even in the off state, thereby making the off-state current negligibly small," says UCSB professor Kaustav Banerjee.

The team combined three- and two-dimensional (2D) materials in a unique heterostructure.

The researchers note the global electronics industry loses billions of dollars each year to the impact of power dissipation on chip cost and reliability. "The work is a significant step forward in the search for a low-voltage logic transistor," says Purdue University professor Mark Lundstrom. "There is still a long ways to go, but this work demonstrates the potential of 2D materials to realize the long-sought, low-voltage device."

From UC Santa Barbara
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