TFE Transistors Closer to Replacing Modern TransistorsCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: April 2, 2012 10:44AM
There is a rapidly approaching wall in computer technology. According to Moore’s Law the number of transistors on a chip will double every two years, but according to physics, this cannot continue indefinitely. Transistors can be thought of as a wall that an electric signal will either jump over or be stopped by. This design has worked well for a long time now, but is not very efficient. Energy is leaking out and when you have millions or billions of transistors all near each other, it builds up as heat, which then impairs performance.
A potential solution to this problem is to change that wall so that electrons cannot jump over it, but instead tunnel through it. Tunneling Field Effect Transistors (TFETs) use quantum tunneling to achieve the same effect as modern transistors, but should require far less power. As of yet though, TFETs are still less efficient than modern transistors, but work research from the University of Notre Dame and Pennsylvania State University are closing the gap. In fact, the researchers believe that TFETs will be ready when modern transistors have hit their limit.
Though quantum mechanical effects are fairly complicated, to produce TFETs will not be difficult for the computer industry. These devices can be made using current methods and tunneling is already used in some electronics, such as flash drives.