Long Live the Microelectronics Revolution

Nov. 22, 2006
Some engineers estimate that within the next decade we will reach the limit, in terms of size and performance, of the silicon transistors that let the microelectronics industry keep up with consumer demand.

Julie Kalista
Online Editor

A cross sectional view of the indium gallium arsenide transistor fabricated at MIT. The critical dimension is 60 nanometers, similar to that of state-of-the-art silicon transistors.
The indium gallium arsenide transistor fabricated at MIT is shown from above.
Don't worry too much, though researchers are on it. "We are looking at new semiconductor materials for transistors that will let us improve performance as devices get smaller," said Jesus del Alamo, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Massachusettes Institute of Technology.

One such group of materials is a family known as III-V compound semiconductors that are composites. One hot prospect in that group is indium gallium arsenide, or InGaAs, a material that lets electrons travel faster than silicon and more current is the key to faster operation. MIT researchers built InGaAs transistors that can carry 2.5 times more current than state-of-the-art silicon. Each quantum-well InGaAs transistor measures only 60 nm long, smaller than the most advanced 65-nm silicon transistors.

Some of the challenges with this new technology include manufacturing transistors in large quantities because InGaAs is more prone to breaking than silicon. "With more work, this technology could surpass silicon and let the microelectronics revolution continue well into the future," says del Alamo.

More Information:
MIT


This article appeared in the Tech Insider e-mail newsletter. If you enjoyed this article and would like to read similar articles sign up today for our free email newsletters!

Sponsored Recommendations

From concept to consumption: Optimizing success in food and beverage

April 9, 2024
Identifying opportunities and solutions for plant floor optimization has never been easier. Download our visual guide to quickly and efficiently pinpoint areas for operational...

A closer look at modern design considerations for food and beverage

April 9, 2024
With new and changing safety and hygiene regulations at top of mind, its easy to understand how other crucial aspects of machine design can get pushed aside. Our whitepaper explores...

Cybersecurity and the Medical Manufacturing Industry

April 9, 2024
Learn about medical manufacturing cybersecurity risks, costs, and threats as well as effective cybersecurity strategies and essential solutions.

Condition Monitoring for Energy and Utilities Assets

April 9, 2024
Condition monitoring is an essential element of asset management in the energy and utilities industry. The American oil and gas, water and wastewater, and electrical grid sectors...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!