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TI's SETMOS said to extend CMOS life

Posted: 11 Dec 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:texas instruments? ti? cmos transistors? mosfet?

Texas Instruments Inc., together with researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne and the U.S Air Force Research Laboratory, have described a potential way to use single electron transistors (SETs) to perform logic functions.

In a presentation to be delivered at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), the researchers will detail how a combination of SETs and standard CMOS transistors in so-called SETMOS devices can provide enough gain and current drive to perform logic functions on a much smaller scale than will eventually be possible with CMOS alone.

SETs can potentially take CMOS technology all the way to the theoretical limit of electrons for computing applications by allowing the use of a single electron to represent a logic state, according to Christoph Wasshuber, a TI scientist and coauthor of the SETMOS paper. "It is starting to look viable for CMOS to continue to play a major role by providing a traditional system interface to millions of radically smaller, lower power, single electron transistors," said Wasshuber.

Standard silicon CMOS should support scaling for the next 10 to 15 years using traditional field-effect transistors that use large numbers of electrons to work. Beyond that, signal integrity and heat problems created by tightly packed transistors will require alternate approaches.

At IEDM, the researchers will report on simulations, not actual devices, that will show encouraging results and that address random background charges, a major stumbling block in SETs research. The researchers based their promising results on a modulation technique that takes advantage of the periodic current voltage characteristic of SETs.

The combination of CMOS and SET could be promising solution for future nanoscale chips. Some programmable SET logic applications have been proposed by others, but TI researchers are following hybrid architectures for analog applications that could provide new functionalities, unachievable in pure CMOS technology.

The SETMOS device exhibits similar Coulomb blockade oscillations as a traditional SET but offers much higher current driving capability, according to the researchers. The SETMOS cell acts as an equivalent hybrid device with unique characteristics in both its SET and MOSFET components.

The next challenge for researchers is to reliably manufacture many SETs in a CMOS-compatible process. The first application for SETs could be for memory and special applications in metrology, such as primary thermometers and super sensitive electrometers, according to TI.

- Nicolas Mokhoff

EE Times

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