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Mapping Temperatures in Transistors

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 03:43PM

We all know how important it is to keep our electronics cool, and on the macroscale, this is not hard to achieve. On the microscale however, it is more difficult because even measuring the temperature of the components is a challenge. Researchers at the University of Southern California though have found an ingenious way to make those measurements, which should translate to the semiconductor industry easily.

Part of what makes it so hard to measure the temperature of a microelectronic device, like a transistor, is that a temperature probe will actually affect the temperature of the system. This makes accurate measurements impossible, so simulations have been used to infer temperatures within devices. The California researchers realized a way to make the measurements without a temperature probe by using an electron microscope. When the temperature of a material changes, so too does its volume and density, which is what the researchers are measuring with a transmission electron microscope. The electrons from the microscope creates plasmons in the material, which shift depending on its density, and now these shifts have been analyzed closely enough to make local temperature measurements.

Among the advantages of this new technique, named Plasmon Energy Expansion Thermometry, is that it can measure temperatures within a device, like a transistor, and not just on its surface. Semiconductor manufacturers already use transmission electron microscopes to measure the size of their devices, so measuring temperatures should not be too difficult for them to do as well. The research has so far been done with aluminum, so the next step is to translate the technique to other materials, including silicon.

Source: University of Southern California via EurekAlert!

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