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Group claims smallest diamond transistor

Posted: 21 Apr 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:diamond transistor? 50nm smallest diamond? nanoscale device?

University of Glasgow researchers have developed what they claim to be the smallest diamond transistor ever with 50nm gate lengths.

The scientists, from the university's Department of Electronics & Electrical Engineering, led by David Moran, say the transistor is half the size of the previous smallest diamond transistor, which was developed by a group at Japanese telecoms conglomerate NTT.

Due to its novel propertiessuch as large bandgap, high intrinsic mobility, and very high thermal conductivitythe researchers suggest diamond is an ideal material for future nanoscale electronic devices and could help the development of nascent technologies such as terahertz imaging and automotive collision detection.

The car industry is developing automotive collision detection (or automotive radar) as a safety feature in which a vehicle has an effective radar zone around it that allows it to detect potential collisions (from any side) well in advance and then take avoiding action.

Such applications require a very fast and ideally high-power transistor technology that needs to be able to operate in adverse weather/temperature conditions, suggests Moran, adding diamond transistor technology would excel in such applications.

The diamond material that was used in the device is made synthetically, using chemical vapor deposition by Element Six Ltd through its Diamond Microwave Devices subsidiary.

Fabrication of the device is part of a five-year project started 18 months ago partially funded with ?500,000 from the U.K. Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council. The project involves collaboration with Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, using the extensive fabrication and characterization facilities within the latter's James Watt Nanofabrication Centre.

Moran says the target is to achieve stable devices with higher frequency and higher power performance than gallium nitride transistors, and to push up the operating frequency of small devices to somewhere around 100GHz, then enhance power-handling by increasing the device's total gate length.

Earlier this month, researchers at the universities of Paris and Stuttgart with colleagues from diamond supermaterials specialist Element Six, claimed significant progress in the development of synthetic diamond suitable for the realization of quantum computers capable of operating at room temperature.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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