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 24, 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 24, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) The future of Aereo, an online service that provides over-the-air TV channels, hinges on a battle with broadcasters that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Aereo Takes on Broadcast TV Titans in Supreme Court Today

Aereo Takes on Broadcast TV Titans in Supreme Court Today

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) Aereo heads to the Supreme Court today to fight for its right to stream broadcast TV over the Internet -- against broadcasters who say the start-up infringes upon copyright law. TheStreet Deputy Managing Editor Leon Lazaroff explains the importance of the case in the TV industry and details what the outcome of it could mean for broadcasters and for cloud storage services -- as Aereo allows its subscribers to not just watch live TV shows but also store content to a DVR in the cloud. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) The light-field photography engineers at Lytro unveiled their next innovation: a professional DSLR-like camera called "Illum." 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