Home > Press > Beyond silicon: MIT demonstrates new transistor technology
MIT engineers have demonstrated a technology that could introduce an important new phase of the microelectronics revolution that has already brought us iPods, laptops and much more.
Beyond silicon: MIT demonstrates new transistor technology
Cambridge, MA | Posted on December 8th, 2006
The work will be presented at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting Dec. 11-13 by Dae-Hyun Kim. Kim is a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Jesus del Alamo, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science and member of MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL).
"Unless we do something very radical pretty soon, the microelectronics revolution that has enriched our lives in so many different ways might come to a screeching halt," said del Alamo.
The problem? Engineers estimate that within the next 10 to 15 years we will reach the limit, in terms of size and performance, of the silicon transistors key to the industry. "Each of us has several billion transistors working on our behalf every day in our phone, laptop, iPod, car, kitchen and more," del Alamo noted.
As a result, del Alamo's lab and others around the world are working on new materials and technologies that may be able to reach beyond the limits of silicon. "We are looking at new semiconductor materials for transistors that will continue to improve in performance, while devices get smaller and smaller," del Alamo said.
One such material del Alamo and his students at the MTL are investigating is a family of semiconductors known as III-V compound semiconductors. Unlike silicon, these are composite materials. A particularly hot prospect is indium gallium arsenide, or InGaAs, a material in which electrons travel many times faster than in silicon. As a result, it should be possible to make very small transistors that can switch and process information very quickly.
Del Alamo's group recently demonstrated this by fabricating InGaAs transistors that can carry 2.5 times more current than state-of-the-art silicon devices. More current is the key to faster operation. In addition, each InGaAs transistor is only 60 nanometers, or billionths of a meter, long. That's similar to the most advanced 65-nanometer silicon technology available in the world today.
"The 60-nanometer InGaAs quantum-well transistor demonstrated by Professor del Alamo's group shows some exciting results at low supply voltage (e.g. 0.5V) and is a very important research milestone," said Robert Chau, senior fellow and director of transistor research and nanotechnology at Intel, a sponsor of the work.
Del Alamo notes, however, that InGaAs transistor technology is still in its infancy. Some of the challenges include manufacturing transistors in large quantities, because InGaAs is more prone to breakage than silicon. But del Alamo expects prototype InGaAs microdevices at the required dimensions to be developed over the next two years and the technology to take off in a decade or so.
"With more work, this semiconductor technology could greatly surpass silicon and allow us to continue the microelectronics revolution for years to come," del Alamo said.
In addition to Intel, this research is sponsored by the Microelectronics Advanced Research Corporation. The MIT transistors were fabricated by pulling together the capabilities of three MIT laboratories: the Microsystems Technology Laboratories, the Scanning-Electron-Beam Lithography Facility and the Nanostructures Laboratory. Del Alamo notes that one reason for the exceptional performance of these transistors is the high quality of the semiconductor material, which was prepared by MBE Technology of Singapore.
The MIT News Office is dedicated to communicating to the media and the public the news and achievements of the students, faculty, staff and the greater MIT community. We help promote the institute's leadership by:
reporting MIT news
The News Office informs the MIT community, the general public, and the news media about MIT news and research, through these venues:
* News Office web site - up-to-date and breaking MIT news, with RSS feeds available
* MIT Tech Talk - the primary, Institute-wide newspaper, published 30 times a year
* MIT E-News - a monthly email newsletter
* News media outreach - We work with journalists, photographers and broadcasters to keep them up to date about noteworthy MIT news, research and campus events. We distribute press releases and research tip sheets, and respond to media requests for experts, leads and photographs.
facilitating PR outreach for the MIT community
* Structure high-level communications campaigns and initiatives for departments, research labs, and centers.
* Coordinate special events including major announcements, news conferences, and symposiums, with the goal of generating increased MIT visibility in the news media.
* Help place opinion pieces by faculty, staff and administrators.
* Facilitate professional peer exchange with other MIT communicators through MIT Editors Club.
* Offer guidance and assistance about how to work more closely with the news media, including putting MIT groups in touch with key science and technology reporters.
* Offer the community tips on:
o Publishing news through the MIT News Office
o Writing news: a quick primer
providing photography, film and video
The News Office prepares supporting visual materials for all news-related needs.
* Photography - Provide photographs of individuals, research initiatives and events for internal and external use.
* Film requests - Act as a liaison between the Institute and organizations wishing to film on campus.
* B-roll and video releases - Provide video news releases (VNR) and video (B-roll) for use by media outlets.
* On-campus broadcasting - Bring together the broadcast media (television and radio) with MIT newsmakers and commentators by utilizing MIT's on-campus video productions facility.
For more information, please click here
Elizabeth A. Thomson
Senior Science and Engineering Editor
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
News Office, Room 11-400
77 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
617-258-5402 (ph); 617-258-8762 (fax)
Copyright © MIT
If you have a comment, please Contact
Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin April 18th, 2014
Scientists open door to better solar cells, superconductors and hard-drives: Research enhances understanding of materials interfaces April 14th, 2014
Obducat has launched a new generation of SINDRE® Nano Imprint production system April 11th, 2014
Scientists in Singapore develop novel ultra-fast electrical circuits using light-generated tunneling currents April 10th, 2014
'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin April 18th, 2014
Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair April 18th, 2014
Oxford Instruments Asylum Research Introduces the MFP-3D InfinityTM AFM Featuring Powerful New Capabilities and Stunning High Performance April 18th, 2014
Transparent Conductive Films and Sensors Are Hot Segments in Printed Electronics: Start-ups in these fields show above-average momentum, while companies working on emissive displays such as OLED are fading, Lux Research says April 17th, 2014
Harry Potter-style invisibility cloaks: A real possibility next Christmas? Forget socks and shaving foam, the big kids of tomorrow want an invisible cloak for Christmas December 19th, 2013
Chicago Awareness Organization First Not-for-Profit to Sponsor Dog Training to Detect Ovarian Cancer Odorants December 12th, 2013
ZEISS Microscopes used to create images for Art Exhibit at Midway Airport: Art of Science: Images from the Institute for Genomic Biology October 25th, 2013
New potential for touch screens found at your fingertips September 17th, 2013
INSCX™ exchange to present Exchange trade reporting mechanism for engineered nanomaterials (NMs) to UK regulation agencies, insurers and upstream/downstream users April 17th, 2014
'Life Redesigned: The Emergence of Synthetic Biology' Lecture at Brookhaven Lab on Wednesday, April 30: Biomedical Engineer James Collins to Speak for BSA Distinguished Lecture Series April 16th, 2014
ECHA Planning Workshop on Regulatory Challenges in the Risk Assessment of Nanomaterials April 16th, 2014
Engineers develop new materials for hydrogen storage April 15th, 2014