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More Energy Efficient Transistors Through Quantum Tunneling

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Tunneling field effect transistors

Credit: University of Notre Dame

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame and Pennsylvania State University say they have made breakthroughs in the development of tunneling field effect transistors (TFETs), semiconductor technology that takes advantage of the odd behavior of electrons at the quantum level.

The researchers say their advances demonstrate that TFETs can solve the problems limiting transistor miniaturization.

The new method takes advantage of the ability of electrons to tunnel through solids. “With tunnel transistors, we have a new kind of gate, a gate that the current can flow through instead of over," says Notre Dame professor Alan Seabaugh. "We adjust the thickness of the gate electrically to turn the current on and off.”

Although TFETs do not yet have the energy efficiency of current transistors, the new research demonstrates record improvements in tunnel transistor drive current. "Our developments are based on finding the right combination of semiconductor materials with which to build these devices," says Penn State professor Suman Datta. “If we’re successful, the impact will be significant in terms of low power integrated circuits."

From University of Notre Dame
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