World's fastest transistor approaches goal of terahertz device

Dec 11, 2006
World's fastest transistor approaches goal of terahertz device
Scanning electron microscope images of original base-collector mesa (top) and improved design (bottom). Credit: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have again broken their own speed record for the world’s fastest transistor. With a frequency of 845 gigahertz, their latest device is approximately 300 gigahertz faster than transistors built by other research groups, and approaches the goal of a terahertz device.

Made from indium phosphide and indium gallium arsenide, "the new transistor utilizes a pseudomorphic grading of the base and collector regions," said Milton Feng, the Holonyak Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois. "The compositional grading of these components enhances the electron velocity, hence, reduces both current density and charging time."

With their latest device, Feng and his research group have taken the transistor to a new range of high-speed operation, bringing the "Holy Grail" of a terahertz transistor finally within reach. Faster transistors translate into faster computers, more flexible and secure wireless communications systems, and more effective combat systems.

In addition to using pseudomorphic material construction, the researchers also refined their fabrication process to produce tinier transistor components. For example, the transistor’s base is only 12.5 nanometers thick (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or about 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair).

"By scaling the device vertically, we have reduced the distance electrons have to travel, resulting in an increase in transistor speed," said graduate student William Snodgrass, who will describe the new device at the International Electronics Device Meeting in San Francisco, Dec. 11-13. "Because the size of the collector has also been reduced laterally, the transistor can charge and discharge faster."

Operated at room temperature (25 degrees Celsius), the transistor speed is 765 gigahertz. Chilled to minus 55 degrees Celsius, the speed increases to 845 gigahertz.

Feng, Snodgrass and graduate student Walid Hafez (now at Intel Corp.) fabricated the high-speed device in the university’s Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.

In addition to further increasing the transistor speed, Feng wants to reduce the current density even more, which will reduce junction temperature and improve device reliability.

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Explore further: Technology turns eyewear into a smart device capable of displaying visual information

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Superconducting circuits, simplified

Oct 17, 2014

Computer chips with superconducting circuits—circuits with zero electrical resistance—would be 50 to 100 times as energy-efficient as today's chips, an attractive trait given the increasing power consumption ...

Recommended for you

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

3 hours ago

Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.

Off-world manufacturing is a go with space printer

7 hours ago

On Friday, the BBC reported on a NASA email exchange with a space station which involved astronauts on the International Space Station using their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in ...

Cadillac CT6 will get streaming video mirror

8 hours ago

Cadillac said Thursday it will add high resolution streaming video to the function of a rearview mirror, so that the driver's vision and safety can be enhanced. The technology will debut on the 2016 Cadillac ...

Sony faces 4th ex-employee lawsuit over hack

8 hours ago

A former director of technology for Sony Pictures Entertainment has sued the company over the data breach that resulted in the online posting of his private financial and personal information.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.