Universal Transistor Could Enable Much Smaller Circuits
German researchers claim to have developed the first transistor that can configure itself to either being a n-type or p-type field-effect transistors (FETs). Current CMOS transistors are locked into a static state of being a p- or n-type transistor.
According to Physorg.com, the research "Synthetic nanowires are used to realize the proof-of-principle" was recently published in an issue of the journal Nano Letters and could lead to smaller semiconductors that require far fewer transistors than today's devices. While the research is in its nascent stages, the scientists claim that their dynamic transistor revealed encouraging electrical characteristics, "including a record on/off ratio and reduced leakage current compared to conventional nanowire FETs," Physorg wrote. Future work will focus on improving the transistor's performance.
According to the scientists, the reconfigurable transistor is "enabled by employing an axial nanowire heterostructure (metal/intrinsic-silicon/metal) with independent gating of the Schottky junctions." Other than traditional field-effect transistors, their invention uses "selective and sensitive control" of charge carrier injections at each Schottky junction to monitor "charge carrier polarity and concentration". This feature would allow the FETs to be reconfigured during their operation and execute virtually any Boolean logic computations and provide more design flexibility for hardware engineers.