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1 nm Gate Transistor Created

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 11:24AM

They say all good things must come to an end, and for a while we have been approaching the physical limits for modern electronics. According to Moore's law the density of transistors in an integrated circuit will double every two years, but silicon structures can only be made so small before physics starts interfering with how they operate. This size limit is at about 5 nm, but researchers at Berkeley Lab and other institutions have successfully built a transistor with a gate-length of just 1 nm.

The reason for the 5 nm limit with silicon is that quantum mechanics will start to play a larger role on that scale, and the transistor's gate will not be able to block the flow of electrons. This is because the electrons will simply tunnel through the gate as though it were not there. While silicon may not be useful at this scale, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) can be viable. This material can be made a single layer thick, which comes in at just 0.65 nm, and because of its resistance to electrical currents, smaller gates can be used. In this case a 1 nm gate made from a carbon nanotube is employed. Carbon nanotubes are hollow structures made of pure carbon that are grown, as opposed to silicon structures that are etched with lithography techniques that cannot yet reach 1 nm sizes.

When tested the researchers found the transistor was able to control the flow of electrons, showing that even though it is only 1 nm in size, it is still functional. This is only a proof of concept though, so you cannot expect these transistors to pop up in any devices soon. Several more discoveries will be needed before that can happen, such as developing self-aligning fabrication methods, scaling these up to produce billions of transistors, and finally packing all of them into a chip.

Source: Berkeley Lab

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AkakmanH on October 07, 2016 22:24

For some reason, I thought that 1 nm is the size of one Hydrogen atom

  and that limit was not going to be quite a reality.

Am I wrong?

Guest_Jim_* on October 08, 2016 00:27

Without looking it up, I'm pretty sure the width of a Hydrogen atom is an Angstrom, which is 10-10, or 0.1 nm.

AkakmanH on October 08, 2016 15:11

Ahhhh, thanks for the clarification.

We are not quite there yet.

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