Munich, Germany -- In its tireless efforts to create smaller and more powerful structures for integrated circuits, Infineon Technologies AG achieved a breakthrough in its Munich laboratories: researchers here have constructed the world's smallest nanotube transistor, with a channel length of only 18 nm - the most advanced transistors currently in production are almost four times this size. To build their nanotransistor, the researchers grew carbon nanotubes, each one measuring only 0.7 to 1.1 nm in diameter, in a controlled process. A single human hair is around 100,000 times thicker by comparison.
The characteristic properties of carbon nanotubes make them the ideal candidate material for many applications in microelectronics: the tubes carry electrical current virtually without friction on their surface thanks to "ballistic" electron transport and can therefore handle 1000 times more than copper wire. What's more, they can be both conducting and semiconducting. Infineon is one of the pioneers in developing carbon nanotubes and was the first semiconductor company to demonstrate how the tubes can be grown at precisely defined locations and how transistors for switching larger currents can be constructed.
The nanotube transistor just unveiled can deliver currents in excess of 15 μA at a supply voltage of only 0.4 V (0.7 V is currently the norm). A current density some 10 times above that of silicon, today's standard material, has been observed. On the basis of the test results, Infineon researchers are confident that they can go on miniaturizing transistors at the same rate as previously. Even supply voltages as low as 0.35 V, which are according to the ITRS currently not expected before the year 2018, could be realized if carbon nanotubes are used as the material.
The research activities are funded by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Infineon Technologies AG, Munich, Germany, offers semiconductor and system solutions for the automotive and industrial sectors, for applications in the wired communications markets, secure mobile solutions as well as memory products. With a global presence, Infineon operates in the US from San Jose, CA, in the Asia-Pacific region from Singapore and in Japan from Tokyo. In fiscal year 2004 (ending September), the company achieved sales of Euro 7.19 billion with about 35,600 employees worldwide. Infineon is listed on the DAX index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: IFX).
Further information is available at www.infineon.com.