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Quantum dot nanotubes eliminate need for semiconductors

Posted: 11 Feb 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Michigan Tech? nanotube? quantum dot? semiconductor? wearable?

Developments surrounding semiconductors are now headed towards the atomic-level at under 5nm. Thus, it cannot be downplayed that suggestions such as moving to graphene are not at all irrelevant. Why not scrap semiconductors, instead, and use tunneling field effect transistors (TFETs)?

The answer is that most materials require cryogenic cooling to make TFETs, according to professor Yoke Khin Yap at Michigan Technological University, Houghton (Michigan Tech). Yap, however, has found a room-temperature solution using quantum-dot studded nanotubes.

Michigan Tech is not all the way there yet but does have a room-temperature tunneling FET proof-of-concept using iron quantum-dots aligned on boron-nitride nanotubes. Yip said this solution can not only replace semiconductors but will be flexible enough to create super-small wearable technologies that will perform at levels beyond our wildest imaginations for semiconductors today.

Yap's lab is working toward ultra-small flexible electronics that eliminate semiconductors in favour of the more flexible capabilities of metallic quantum dots and isoelectronic crystals. According to Yap, iron quantum dots (QDs) decorating boron-nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) can use tunneling from quantum-dot to quantum-dot at ultra-low turn-on voltages, to switch the way that transistors do, but using a flexible low-power substrate with absolutely zero leakage current.

"We already know that the turn-on voltage for a typical QD-BNNT channel can be below 0.1V," Yap stated. "But for the current proof of concept work, it is higher at (about 15V) due to the long channel length on our STM-TEM [scanning tunneling microscope-tunneling electron microscope] holder."

Boron-nitride nanotube

Iron quantum dots (yellow, above and grey, below) stud a boron-nitride nanotube, creating transistors without semiconductors by using quantum tunneling between dots when a voltage threshold is exceeded, thus turning-on the transistors without semiconductors. The electron can tunnel between quantum dots in a row, or can find its own path around a nanotube with randomly placed dots. (Source: Michigan Tech, Sue Hill)

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