Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fundamental Flaw In Transistor Noise Theory Discovered

Date:
May 22, 2009
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Summary:
Chip manufacturers beware: There's a newfound flaw in our understanding of transistor noise, a phenomenon affecting the electronic on-off switch that makes computer circuits possible. According to the engineers who discovered the problem, it will soon stand in the way of creating more efficient, lower-powered devices like cell phones and pacemakers unless we solve it.

Chip manufacturers beware: There's a newfound flaw in our understanding of transistor noise, a phenomenon affecting the electronic on-off switch that makes computer circuits possible. According to the engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) who discovered the problem, it will soon stand in the way of creating more efficient, lower-powered devices like cell phones and pacemakers unless we solve it.

While exploring transistor behavior, the team found evidence that a widely accepted model explaining errors caused by electronic "noise" in the switches does not fit the facts. A transistor must be made from highly purified materials to function; defects in these materials, like rocks in a stream, can divert the flow of electricity and cause the device to malfunction. This, in turn, makes it appear to fluctuate erratically between "on" and "off" states. For decades, the engineering community has largely accepted a theoretical model that identifies these defects and helps guide designers' efforts to mitigate them.

Those days are ending, says NIST's Jason Campbell, who has studied the fluctuations between on-off states in progressively smaller transistors. The theory, known as the elastic tunneling model, predicts that as transistors shrink, the fluctuations should correspondingly increase in frequency.

However, Campbell's group at NIST has shown that even in nanometer-sized transistors, the fluctuation frequency remains the same. "This implies that the theory explaining the effect must be wrong," Campbell said. "The model was a good working theory when transistors were large, but our observations clearly indicate that it's incorrect at the smaller nanoscale regimes where industry is headed."

The findings have particular implications for the low-power transistors currently in demand in the latest high-tech consumer technology, such as laptop computers. Low-power transistors are coveted because using them on chips would allow devices to run longer on less power—think cell phones that can run for a week on a single charge or pacemakers that operate for a decade without changing the battery. But Campbell says that the fluctuations his group observed grow even more pronounced as the power decreased. "This is a real bottleneck in our development of transistors for low-power applications," he says. "We have to understand the problem before we can fix it—and troublingly, we don't know what's actually happening."

Campbell, who credits NIST colleague K.P. Cheung for first noticing the possibility of trouble with the theory, presented* some of the group's findings at an industry conference on May 19, 2009, in Austin, Texas. Researchers from the University of Maryland College Park and Rutgers University also contributed to the study.

* J.P. Campbell, L.C. Yu, K.P. Cheung, J. Qin, J.S. Suehle, A. Oates, K. Sheng. Large Random Telegraph Noise in Sub-Threshold Operation of Nano-scale nMOSFETs. 2009 IEEE International Conference on Integrated Circuit Design and Technology. Austin, Texas. May 19, 2009; and Random Telegraph Noise in Highly Scaled nMOSFETs. 2009 IEEE International Reliability Physics Symposium, Montreal, Canada, April 29, 2009.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology. "Fundamental Flaw In Transistor Noise Theory Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090521112717.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology. (2009, May 22). Fundamental Flaw In Transistor Noise Theory Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090521112717.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology. "Fundamental Flaw In Transistor Noise Theory Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090521112717.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nintendo Changed Gaming World, but Its Future Uncertain: Upstone

Nintendo Changed Gaming World, but Its Future Uncertain: Upstone

AFP (Apr. 19, 2014) The Nintendo Game Boy celebrates its 25th anniversary Monday and game expert Stephen Upstone says the console can be credited with creating a trend towards handheld gaming devices. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nearly Two Weeks On, The Internet Copes With Heartbleed

Nearly Two Weeks On, The Internet Copes With Heartbleed

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) The Internet is taking important steps in patching the vulnerabilities Heartbleed highlighted, but those preventive measures carry their own costs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook To Share Nearby Friends Data With Advertisers

Facebook To Share Nearby Friends Data With Advertisers

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed the company will use GPS data from the new Nearby Friends feature for advertising sometime in the future. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins