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Forget 3D, Purdue Scientists Have a 4D Transistor

Researchers at Purdue University said that they succeeded in replacing silicon in transistors and create a path to much smaller chip structures. Instead of silicon, the team at Purdue used indium-gallium-arsenide that could become a critical material for the production of semiconductors below 10 nm. A prototype built at Purdue has been made in a 20 nm process.

According to Peide Ye, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue, three indium-gallium-arsenide wires were stacked on top of each other, while being progressively shorter to the top. Including the tapered cross section, the structures resembles the shape of a Christmas tree. So, why would we call this a 4D transistor? Here is the explanation in Peide's words:

"A one-story house can hold so many people, but more floors, more people, and it's the same thing with transistors," Ye said. "Stacking them results in more current and much faster operation for high-speed computing. This adds a whole new dimension, so I call them 4D." Curb your enthusiasm. No time travel yet.

However, indium-gallium-arsenide is, in fact, an interesting material to scale chip structures and, as Peide points out, silicon may run into physical limits in the 10 nm neighborhood. Whether that will be the case or not, we know that there are solutions that will keep Moore's Law alive for some time.

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  • tomfreak
    Peide points out, silicon may run into physical limits in the 10 nm neighborhood
    with me skeptical about new changes, new material. I guess it is logical for me to get a high end 14nm Broadwell-E for my next rig. Since desktop life cycle is likely to last at least 5-6yrs, longer if I go highend. By that time the new material should have mature.
    Reply
  • sixdegree
    I wonder when all this space-age tech ever gonna found their way into regular desktop. Also, stacking something on top of something else is adding a new dimension? I'll keep that in mind the next time i visit Burger King.
    Reply
  • army_ant7
    9436215 said:
    Peide points out, silicon may run into physical limits in the 10 nm neighborhood
    with me skeptical about new changes, new material. I guess it is logical for me to get a high end 14nm Broadwell-E for my next rig. Since desktop life cycle is likely to last at least 5-6yrs, longer if I go highend. By that time the new material should have mature.
    +1'ed you. Though it would still depend on what you'll be using that PC for. Hopefully, by that time, we'd have a lot more software that take advantage of multiple cores, 'coz if not, then you might not keep up as much as you may want to in terms of performance when newer architectures come out.

    I'm imagining a time when Intel will just have to resort to subsequent "Tock's" until smaller process transistors become available.

    Anyway, very interesting stuff! The reason behind calling them "4D" seems pretty cheesy to me... They should just call them "Stacked Transistor Technology" or something. Sounds cool to me... Actually, knowing how the tech works and what it's capable of are good enough to make it cool. :P

    Its using indium-gallium-arsenide as the material is sort of a different thing on it's own compared to the way they made the transistors right?

    Reply
  • Onihikage
    How would the toxicity of an indium-gallium-arsenide chip and its production compare to those of silicon?
    Reply
  • tomfreak
    @ army_ant7,

    if they still researching now that means they still have no idea what and how is reliability of the material on a commercial product.(dont get me start asking if ever the new material CPU could last 5-6yrs or not).

    After we seen all the early SSD adopters are facing, u cant blame me skeptical on new technology. I'll be getting broadwell-E, the last of its kind base on a proven >40yrs old silicon technology that rig is likely to hold out for at least 7yrs b4 become outdated. :D
    Reply
  • randomizer
    This adds a whole new dimension, so I call them 4D.

    Does Purdue include a large marketing component in its engineering degrees? This sort of fluff normally comes from the PR squad, not the engineers.
    Reply
  • deksman
    Synthetic diamonds could have been used for the very same purpose since 1996.
    Graphene since late 2008.
    And those 2 materials would be far better for this purpose.

    Synthetic diamonds also could have been used for production of displays in 1996.

    Oh but wait... nevermind the premise that we can create these superior synthetic materials in abundance... the 'market' works by using 'cheap' and 'cost efficient' materials (not what is technologically more efficient/better) and then they release the least efficient product first, followed by revisions in the upcoming years for the purpose of profits.

    I detest Capitalism... it doesn't promote innovation or gives us the best of what technology is capable of (in a sustainable capacity).

    Reply
  • diddo
    OnihikageHow would the toxicity of an indium-gallium-arsenide chip and its production compare to those of silicon? I would not eat neither an i-g-a nor a Si based wafer...
    Reply
  • kensingtron
    randomizerDoes Purdue include a large marketing component in its engineering degrees? This sort of fluff normally comes from the PR squad, not the engineers.
    Academics love talking them selves up; self marketing is something they excel at. 4d, bah, way to piss the physicists off.
    Reply
  • godnodog
    4d is clearly for marketing, as 4D objects can´t be created (at least by current technology), IF I am not misstaken.
    Reply