SAN FRANCISCO Advances in nanotechnology and organic electronics will complement mainstream silicon process developments at the International Electron Devices Meeting Dec. 11-13.
A team from Japan's NTT research laboratories has gone beyond the realm of single-transistor devices to build the first elemental circuit using single-electron transistors. The team fabricated the circuit using a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) process and a vertical pattern-dependent oxidation technique. When operating at 25 K, the circuit performed basic arithmetic calculations.
Nanotechnology is also being applied to nonvolatile memory devices, where nanocrystals on a floating gate are used in place of capacitors to store the charge. A research team at Lucent Technologies has used an aerosol-based technique to deposit and integrate a thin, uniform layer of nanocrystals in the gate dielectric of 200-nanometer MOSFETs. The 3-nm-diameter spherical nanocrystals were fabricated from diluted silane, heated to 950 degrees C.
Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley are scheduled to report at the San Francisco meeting on what they say is the smallest transistor gate ever built: 20 nm, with an ultrathin, 140-angstrom silicon-on-insulator layer. The researchers overcame the unwanted series resistance often encountered in thin layers of SOI by optimizing the silicide process step on the transistor's contacts. The work is one more indication of how SOI is being applied to mainstream use.
Meanwhile, in the race for speedy transistors, Hitachi Ltd. researchers claim to have built the fastest silicon-based bipolar transistor, operating at 180 GHz with an ECL gate delay of 6.7 picoseconds. The self-aligned, 200-nm transistor was built using silicon germanium and is compatible with standard CMOS architectures. It is said to be the first transistor built in this high-resistance material to incorporate passive components a capacitor and a high-Q inductor.
A team from Canada's Simon Fraser University will detail an indium-phosphide-based double-bipolar-transistor heterostructure fast enough to be used with 40-Gbit/second fiber-optic systems. The researchers claim to have overcome a collector-blocking effect that has been the bane of base-collector heterojunction designs for years. The devices achieve a peak cutoff frequency of 250 GHz, claimed to be the fastest to date for a double heterostructure design.
Transistors via ink-jet
Finally, researchers at Cambridge University will describe the production of all-polymer thin-film transistors using a high-resolution ink-jet printer, a first for that production process. While ink-jet techniques have been used to build polymer LEDs and large, flexible displays, they have not been applied to manufacture transistors. Cambridge researchers used a piezoelectric ink-jet print head to build the transistors with a channel length of 5 micrometers and a patterned gate electrode. The devices showed on/off current ratios exceeding 105 and electron mobilities of 0.02 cm squared/Vs, adequate for many electronics applications.
A panel discussion will consider what technologies will take the industry past the 40-Gbit/s range. Other panels will focus on alternative memory architectures and single-electron transistors.