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Communications of the ACM


A Switch in Time

stacked nanosheet transistor layers

Credit: IBM

South Korean chipmaker Samsung Electronics aims to be first to adopt a new form of transistor that should allow Moore's Law to continue for another decade when it puts into production its 3nm semiconductor process toward the end of 2022.

It is just over a decade since the last major change to transistor structure went into production. The fin field-effect transistor (FinFET) emerged when the planar transistor structure that had served the industry well for several decades hit a physical limit. The problem lay in the relatively simple structure of the transistor's gate, an electrode laid over a thin channel between the source and drain that acts as an electrostatic valve. The gate's electric field, generated when a voltage is applied to it, controls whether electrons can pass through the channel, determining whether the transistor is switched on or not.


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