Following a 20 nm transistor announcement from Purdue University, researchers at MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories said they successfully created a 22 nm indium gallium arsenide compound transistor.
As semiconductor manufacturing processes transition to smaller structures, researchers believe that Silicon will eventually hit a limit at which it cannot be scaled anymore. Indium gallium arsenide is considered a potential candidate to replace silicon at the 10 nm and below level. MIT said that the material is already used in fiber-optic communication and radar technologies, and is known to have extremely good electrical properties. Recent successes to shrink transistors using the compound suggest that the industry is working toward a viable solution. The 10 nm mark is expected to be reached and surpassed in semiconductor manufacturing in the 2017/2018 time frame.
"We have shown that you can make extremely small indium gallium arsenide MOSFETs with excellent logic characteristics, which promises to take Moore's Law beyond the reach of silicon," said Jesús del Alamo, co-developer of the transistors.
The researchers said that many of the techniques used to make the indium gallium arsenide transistors are in use in current silicon-based chip manufacturing. Even if the techniques have not been used for compounds, del Alamo believes that current production technologies need to be adopted.
"When you are talking about integrating billions of tiny transistors onto a chip, then we need to completely reformulate the fabrication technology of compound semiconductor transistors to look much more like that of silicon transistors," del Alamo said.
He said that the team will now be focusing on improving the electrical performance of their transistors, and further shrink the transistor gate length down to 10 nm.