Transistors sprout inner forests

Nanotechnologies for electronics come along all the time, but they’re typically far from ready for the factory floor. Now, independent teams of researchers in Sweden and in Korea have combined a promising nanotechnology with conventional microelectronics to create novel transistors that perform better than most and that are expected to be easy to manufacture.

WIRY ALLY. Arrays of nanowires can boost transistor performance. Sheathlike control electrodes (arrow) enclose the lower portions of these indium arsenide nanowires. Wernersson et al./IEDM

At Lund University in Sweden, Lars-Erik Wernersson and his colleagues have made transistors in which a solid layer of material is replaced by an airy forest of nanowires (SN: 5/22/04, p. 325: Branching Out: Semiconducting nanotrees could boost electronics). Sheathing the lower third of each nanowire with a control electrode yielded transistors that waste less power than conventional designs do, says Lund team leader Lars Samuelson.

The nanowire forests can be made of high-performance semiconductors, such as indium arsenide. Incorporating that material boosts transistor speeds above what’s possible with ordinary semiconductors such as silicon.

Advances in methods for growing nanowires promise to make the transistors easy to manufacture, Samuelson adds.

Wernersson described the new nanowire transistors last month at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting in Washington, D.C.

At that same meeting, researchers from Samsung Electronics in Yongin City, Korea, unveiled a prototype transistor based on just two silicon nanowires. The engineers claim that the new transistor is “highly manufacturable.”

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