Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More energy efficient transistors through quantum tunneling

Date:
March 26, 2012
Source:
University of Notre Dame
Summary:
Researchers have announced breakthroughs in the development of tunneling field effect transistors, a semiconductor technology that takes advantage of the quirky behavior of electrons at the quantum level.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame and Pennsylvania State University have announced breakthroughs in the development of tunneling field effect transistors (TFETs), a semiconductor technology that takes advantage of the quirky behavior of electrons at the quantum level.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Notre Dame

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame and Pennsylvania State University have announced breakthroughs in the development of tunneling field effect transistors (TFETs), a semiconductor technology that takes advantage of the quirky behavior of electrons at the quantum level.

Transistors are the building blocks of the electronic devices that power the digital world, and much of the growth in computing power over the past 40 years has been made possible by increases in the number of transistors that can be packed onto silicon chips.

But that growth, if left to current technology, may soon be coming to an end.

Many in the semiconductor field think that the industry is fast approaching the physical limits of transistor miniaturization. The major problem in modern transistors is power leakage leading to the generation of excessive heat from billions of transistors in close proximity.

The recent advances at Notre Dame and Penn State -- who are partners in the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery (MIND) -- show that TFETs are on track to solve these problems by delivering comparable performance to today's transistors, but with much greater energy efficiency.

They do this by taking advantage of the ability of electrons to "tunnel" through solids, an effect that would seem like magic at the human scale but is normal behavior at the quantum level.

"A transistor today acts much like a dam with a moveable gate" says Alan Seabaugh, professor of electrical engineering at Notre Dame and the Frank M. Freimann Director of MIND. "The rate at which water flows, the current, depends on the height of the gate."

"With tunnel transistors, we have a new kind of gate, a gate that the current can flow through instead of over. We adjust the thickness of the gate electrically to turn the current on and off."

"Electron tunneling devices have a long history of commercialization," adds Seabaugh, "You very likely have held more than a billion of these devices in a USB flash drive. The principle of quantum mechanical tunneling is already used for data storage devices."

While TFETs don't yet have the energy efficiency of current transistors, papers released in December 2011 by Penn State and March 2012 by Notre Dame demonstrate record improvements in tunnel transistor drive current, and more advances are expected in the coming year.

"Our developments are based on finding the right combination of semiconductor materials with which to build these devices," says Suman Datta, professor of electrical engineering at Penn State University.

"If we're successful, the impact will be significant in terms of low power integrated circuits. These, in turn, raise the possibility of self-powered circuits which, in conjunction with energy harvesting devices, could enable active health monitoring, ambient intelligence, and implantable medical devices."

Another benefit of tunneling transistors is that using them to replace existing technology wouldn't require a wholesale change in the semiconductor industry. Much of the existing circuit design and manufacturing infrastructure would remain the same.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Notre Dame. The original article was written by Arnold Phifer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Notre Dame. "More energy efficient transistors through quantum tunneling." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120326160956.htm>.
University of Notre Dame. (2012, March 26). More energy efficient transistors through quantum tunneling. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120326160956.htm
University of Notre Dame. "More energy efficient transistors through quantum tunneling." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120326160956.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Japan Firm Showcases 'touchable' 3D Technology

Japan Firm Showcases 'touchable' 3D Technology

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) Technology that generates touchable 3D imagery is unveiled in Japan, with its developers saying users could pull and push objects that are not really there. Duration: 01:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Is This Madden NFL Video Game Character 14 Inches Tall?

Why Is This Madden NFL Video Game Character 14 Inches Tall?

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) The newest Madden NFL video game has a few glitches, including a 14-inch player who's actually more than 6 feet tall in real life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Home Depot Data Breach Could Affect All Stores Nationwide

Home Depot Data Breach Could Affect All Stores Nationwide

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) Home Depot is investigating a potentially "massive" data breach that analysts say could be much larger than Target's 40 million leaked card numbers. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Oops! Microsoft Hints At Windows 9 Launch, Rumors Abound

Oops! Microsoft Hints At Windows 9 Launch, Rumors Abound

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) Microsoft's Chinese offices may have just named and set a rough date for the company's next operating system, Windows 9. 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