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: 50 Cent, Intel team up on heart-monitor headphones

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A transistor-like amplifier for single photons

Jul 29, 2014

Data transmission over long distances usually utilizes optical techniques via glass fibres – this ensures high speed transmission combined with low power dissipation of the signal. For quite some years ...

Designing exascale computers

Jul 23, 2014

"Imagine a heart surgeon operating to repair a blocked coronary artery. Someday soon, the surgeon might run a detailed computer simulation of blood flowing through the patient's arteries, showing how millions ...

Scientists explore mash-up of vacuum tube and MOSFET

Jun 25, 2014

Thumb-size vacuum tubes that amplified signals in radio and television sets in the first half of the 20th century might seem nothing like the metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) that ...

Recommended for you

Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

1 hour ago

Internet giant Google will offer management courses to 3,000 tourism businesses on the island of Crete as part of an initiative to promote the sector in Greece, industry union Sete said on Thursday.

Enabling a new future for cloud computing

1 hour ago

The National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced two $10 million projects to create cloud computing testbeds—to be called "Chameleon" and "CloudLab"—that will enable the academic research community ...

Hitchhiking robot reaches journey's end in Canada

5 hours ago

A chatty robot with an LED-lit smiley face sent hitchhiking across Canada this summer as part of a social experiment reached its final destination Thursday after several thousand kilometers on the road.

Microsoft to unveil new Windows software

5 hours ago

A news report out Thursday indicated that Microsoft is poised to give the world a glimpse at a new-generation computer operating system that will succeed Windows 8.

Music site SoundCloud to start paying artists

7 hours ago

SoundCloud said Thursday that it will start paying artists and record companies whose music is played on the popular streaming site, a move that will bring it in line with competitors such as YouTube and Spotify.

User comments : 0