Nav: Home

Looking back and forward: A decadelong quest for a transformative transistor

March 13, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2019 -- Smartphones contain billions of tiny switches called transistors that allow us to take care of myriad tasks beyond making calls -- sending texts, navigating neighborhoods, snapping selfies and Googling names. These switches involve an electrically conducting channel whose conductivity can be changed by a gate terminal, which is separated from the channel by a dielectric film that's a mere 5 to 6 atoms thick.

Transistors have been miniaturized for the past 50 years based on Moore's law, an observation that the number of transistors on a chip can double roughly every 18 months while the cost is cut in half. But we've now reached the point where transistors can't continue to be scaled any further.

In the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, researchers review negative capacitance field-effect transistors (NC-FETs), a new device concept that suggests traditional transistors can be made much more efficient by simply adding a thin layer of ferroelectric material. If it works, the same chip could compute far more, yet require less frequent charging of its battery.

The physics of the technology are being assessed throughout the world and, in their article, the researchers summarize state-of-the-art work with NC FETs and the need for self-consistent and coherent interpretation of a variety of experiments being reported in the literature.

"NC FETs were originally proposed by my colleague professor Supriyo Datta and his graduate student Sayeef Salahuddin, who is now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley," said Muhammad Ashraful Alam, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University.

From the very beginning, Alam found the concept of NC-FETs intriguing -- not only because it addresses a pressing problem of finding a new electronic switch for the semiconductor industry, but also because it serves as a conceptual framework for a broad class of phase-transition devices collectively termed "Landau switches."

"More recently, when my colleague and co-author professor Peide Ye started experimentally demonstrating these transistors, it was an opportunity to work with him to explore deeply intriguing features of this device technology," Alam said. "Our article summarizes our 'theorist-experimentalist' perspective regarding the topic."

Although hundreds of papers have been published on the topic, according to the researchers, the validity of quasi-static NC and the frequency-reliability limits of NC-FET are still being hotly debated.

If conclusively demonstrated and integrated into modern ICs, the impact of the NC-FET transistors will be transformative. "Given the potential, there is a need for systematic analysis of the device concept," said Ye. "We found that the data from various groups has a wide scatter and researchers are using very different techniques to characterize their devices. This requires an integrated and comprehensive analysis of the existing data set."

The researchers hope their work will bring the community together to suggest ways of making coordinated progress toward realizing this promising technology.
-end-
The article, "A critical review of recent progress on negative capacitance field-effect transistors," is authored by Muhammad A. Alam, Mengwei Si and Peide D. Ye. It appeared in Applied Physics Letters on March 8, 2019 (DOI: 10.1063/1.5092684) and can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5092684.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL

Applied Physics Letters features concise, rapid reports on significant new findings in applied physics. The journal covers new experimental and theoretical research on applications of physics phenomena related to all branches of science, engineering, and modern technology. See http://apl.aip.org.

American Institute of Physics

Related Physics Articles:

Challenges and opportunities for women in physics
Women in the United States hold fewer than 25% of bachelor's degrees, 20% of doctoral degrees and 19% of faculty positions in physics.
Indeterminist physics for an open world
Classical physics is characterized by the equations describing the world.
Leptons help in tracking new physics
Electrons with 'colleagues' -- other leptons - are one of many products of collisions observed in the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider.
Has physics ever been deterministic?
Researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the University of Vienna and the University of Geneva, have proposed a new interpretation of classical physics without real numbers.
Twisted physics
A new study in the journal Nature shows that superconductivity in bilayer graphene can be turned on or off with a small voltage change, increasing its usefulness for electronic devices.
Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.
2D topological physics from shaking a 1D wire
Published in Physical Review X, this new study propose a realistic scheme to observe a 'cold-atomic quantum Hall effect.'
Helping physics teachers who don't know physics
A shortage of high school physics teachers has led to teachers with little-to-no training taking over physics classrooms, reports show.
Physics at the edge
In 2005, condensed matter physicists Charles Kane and Eugene Mele considered the fate of graphene at low temperatures.
Using physics to print living tissue
3D printers can be used to make a variety of useful objects by building up a shape, layer by layer.
More Physics News and Physics Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.