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Nanoelectronics Physics Research


The process of silicon device shrink is expected to continue for at least the next decade. However, it is expected that there will be a breakdown in the underlying physical mechanisms once critical feature sizes of ~50 nm are reached (projected for volume manufacturing in about 2012). So there is some urgency to the need to formulate and demonstrate new classes of devices based on the physics of the nanometer size regime for future integrated electronics.

Nanoelectronics research has explored a number of physical phenomena that could be envisioned for a 'post shrink' device technology. These include electron tunneling, Coulomb blockade, and metal-insulator (Mott) transition. Indeed, some limited device type behavior has been demonstrated. However, the needs of future integrated electronics technology require a greater understanding of:

  • Device scaling
  • Inherent speed determining mechanisms
  • Power dissipation and its minimization

A functional device technology must be based on physical mechanisms that are scalable to dimensions far smaller that envisioned for the silicon MOSFET, i.e., <<50 nm. A consequence of device downscaling is the increase in device speed that results. However, the material and device physics that determine speed limitations are not completely understood, especially in newly developed compound semiconductor heterosystems. Also, we are now entering the regime where integrated electronics are interconnect limited, i.e., the speed of a circuit is determined by the delay times along the interconnects between devices rather than device transit times. Thus nanoelectronic devices offering solutions to the interconnect problem will lead to enormous increases in performance. As device densities increase, power dissipation per unit area of chip also increases. As a consequence, there is a premium on lowering the power dissipation associated with device operation. Again, nanoelectronics offers orders of magnitude improvement over existing technologies.


Contact the Principal Investigator, Eric Snow, for more information

 

 
   
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