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Universal Transistor Could Enable Much Smaller Circuits

By - Source: Physorg.com | B 30 comments

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.

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Top Comments
  • 16 Hide
    house70 , December 21, 2011 1:46 PM
    That's pretty awesome. Means that circuits can re-configure at a hardware level. Multi-use chips for all your needs.
    Now, THAT"S something that is worth a patent!
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    vigilante212 , December 21, 2011 1:15 PM
    Cool
  • 6 Hide
    lamorpa , December 21, 2011 1:34 PM
    Beam me up Schottky!
  • Display all 30 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    Lord Captivus , December 21, 2011 1:34 PM
    can someone translate this? whats the possible effect on humans life?
  • 2 Hide
    allenpan , December 21, 2011 1:45 PM
    geeze, smaller FET = smaller embedded system, lower current leak, such as smaller replacement organs, monitors so on
  • 16 Hide
    house70 , December 21, 2011 1:46 PM
    That's pretty awesome. Means that circuits can re-configure at a hardware level. Multi-use chips for all your needs.
    Now, THAT"S something that is worth a patent!
  • 2 Hide
    cyprod , December 21, 2011 1:46 PM
    Okay, I studied ASIC design in college. It was actually my specialization, though I'll admit I was never able to land a job in ASIC design. But still, I took those classes through the 500 level, most of the way to a masters and created functioning silicon. I know every word mentioned in there. I'm familiar with every concept mentioned. And yet, it all sounds like gibberish. n-type and p-type are determined by their substrate. n-type, negative charge. p-type, positive charge. The difference between n-type and p-type is if you apply a positive charge to the gate to turn it on, or apply a negative charge to the gate to turn it on. But historically, p-types are extremely large on silicon, and as such, takes up a lot of real estate, so because of that though CMOS is ideal for leakage speed, nobody uses them, because they're too expensive to produce. Everybody strictly uses n-type transistors. How are you changing the transistor type without fundamentally changing the charge of the substrate. I mean, hell, it'd be a big enough of an advancement just to make a p-type that's the same size as an n-type, and to hell with them switching.
  • 0 Hide
    DRosencraft , December 21, 2011 1:48 PM
    Quote:
    can someone translate this? whats the possible effect on humans life?


    I'm not 100% sure on this, but the basics are that if this works, any electronic device that relies on transistors could be manufactured cheaper and smaller becuase of not needing to include current switching technology. In other words, future devices like various PC components can be made even smaller and more efficient. How much? That I do not know.
  • 0 Hide
    saint19 , December 21, 2011 1:53 PM
    lord captivuscan someone translate this? whats the possible effect on humans life?


    Basically, better power use and less lose of power in electric components.
  • -1 Hide
    lamorpa , December 21, 2011 2:05 PM
    lord captivuscan someone translate this? whats the possible effect on humans life?

    The satisfying knowledge of a job well done.
  • 1 Hide
    memadmax , December 21, 2011 2:09 PM
    The article tells you what you need to know: "could lead to smaller semiconductors that require far fewer transistors than today's devices"

    Be a proactive reader, not passive, no matter how bland the material is.....
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , December 21, 2011 2:39 PM
    Could this lead to much higher levels of storage or will it really only affect efficiency and speed?
  • 4 Hide
    gmarsack , December 21, 2011 3:03 PM
    Did anyone else read the title of the article as, "Universal Translator Could Enable Much Smaller Circuits."

    I was a bit confused, but it makes sense now. lol

    ▄██████████████▄▐█▄▄▄▄█▌
    ██████▌▄▌▄▐▐▌███▌▀▀██▀▀
    ████▄█▌▄▌▄▐▐▌▀███▄▄█▌
    ▄▄▄▄▄██████████████▀
  • 0 Hide
    Zagen30 , December 21, 2011 3:43 PM
    gmarsackDid anyone else read the title of the article as, "Universal Translator Could Enable Much Smaller Circuits."I was a bit confused, but it makes sense now. lol


    I did.
  • 1 Hide
    GreaseMonkey_62 , December 21, 2011 3:53 PM
    What a Universal Translator? I don't have to learn Klingon now?
  • 2 Hide
    memadmax , December 21, 2011 4:02 PM
    GreaseMonkey_62What a Universal Translator? I don't have to learn Klingon now?


    SoH DIchDaq ghoj tlhIngan joq Hegh!
  • 0 Hide
    td854 , December 21, 2011 4:32 PM
    lamorpaThe satisfying knowledge of a job well done.


    I'm not sure why, but I laughed. Thank you sir.
  • 6 Hide
    eilersr , December 21, 2011 4:34 PM
    cyprodthough CMOS is ideal for leakage speed, nobody uses them, because they're too expensive to produce. Everybody strictly uses n-type transistors.


    I'm not sure where you studied, but this is false. In modern digital IC's, CMOS is absolutely used. The industry abandoned pure NMOS and pseduo-NMOS back in the early 80's due to power concerns and switching characteristics. In general, yes, you get better drive strength, etc. with NMOS vs. PMOS due to the differences in electron vs. hole mobility, thus leading to the sizing disparity you cited. But that difference is a fact that digital IC designer have lived with for 30+ years. To say that no one uses p-type transistors is crazy.

    cyprodHow are you changing the transistor type without fundamentally changing the charge of the substrate.


    You need to read the article closer. The novel advance is not relying on dopant concentrations to determine p-type vs. n-type. Instead, they are relying on a mechansim to modulate the charge carrier injection directly at the Schottky junction. In other words, they have a structure which allows the device to change whether electrons or holes are the majority carriers directly at the junction, thus determing whether it is configured as n-type or p-type.
  • 0 Hide
    jacobdrj , December 21, 2011 6:21 PM
    gmarsackDid anyone else read the title of the article as, "Universal Translator Could Enable Much Smaller Circuits."I was a bit confused, but it makes sense now. lol
    ▄██████████████▄▐█▄▄▄▄█▌██████▌▄▌▄▐▐▌███▌▀▀██▀▀████▄█▌▄▌▄▐▐▌▀███▄▄█▌▄▄▄▄▄██████████████▀

    Yep, I saw that too...
  • 1 Hide
    WyomingKnott , December 21, 2011 7:45 PM
    memadmaxSoH DIchDaq ghoj tlhIngan joq Hegh!

    I just fed that into Google translate - it didn't recognize it.

    Google, a Klingon translator would make a great easter egg.
  • 0 Hide
    Thunderfox , December 21, 2011 9:01 PM
    "Future work will focus on improving the transistor's performance."

    Why don't they work on massproducing what they have, if it's already superior to existing technology? I keep hearing about supposedly revolutionary things being developed, but nothing ever gets released. If it is too expensive to manufacture such radically different technology, then they should research improved manufacturing processes.
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