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Junctionless Transistor Could Simplify Chip Making

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the conjunction-junction-i-got-yer-function dept.

Hardware 100

An anonymous reader writes "A novel transistor architecture has been developed by a team of researchers led by Jean-Pierre Colinge at Tyndall National Institute at Cork, Ireland. Not many technology developments can be truly described as 'a breakthrough' or "revolutionary' but this might just fit the bill. It does depend on the extremely small dimensions of silicon nanowires just a few dozens of atoms wide. EE Times picked up on an announcement of a paper on the topic being published by Nature Nanotechnology."

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Woo! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31229510)

Digg this if you're excited about the breakthrough!

Proof Read Much? (1, Funny)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229532)

The gate can be used the squeeze the electron channel to nothing without the use of junctions or doping.

Proof Read Much?

Re:Proof Read Much? (2, Funny)

seven of five (578993) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229760)

Evidence of doping?

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31237986)

Why is this not at +5? It's the first time in a while that a Slashdot post has made me laugh aloud. Mods: If you don't get the joke, please read what doping means in this context.

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229780)

Also:

Nature Nanotechnology

Is that an oxymoron?

Re:Proof Read Much? (4, Funny)

moogied (1175879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229924)

What? Nature exists on the nano-level as well... just in a less 'huggable' format.

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

riT-k0MA (1653217) | more than 4 years ago | (#31241824)

Nature also exists in Bears and I don't see you hugging bears...

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 4 years ago | (#31258026)

Well, there are "bear hugs" as well, but I guess wresting doesn't happen in nature...

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230076)

Nothing humans do is any more unnatural than ants making tunnels or chimps using sticks as tools. Just because we have consciousness does not mean we get to proclaim ourselves superior to and ungoverned by nature. Unless you're an Intelligent Design type, then you might have an argument.

Re:Proof Read Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31231066)

I am an Intelligent Design type, but with a twist...natural selection and evolution are highly intelligent designs.

The difference between us and the ants:
ants provide a service to nature by tilling the soil and fertilizing it with their mounds of droppings. they are also part of the food chain.

The difference between us and the chimps:
the chimp doesn't alter the landscape to create his tool. nature provided the tool ready-made. when he's done with that stick, he'll toss it back to the ground and and it will continue its natural decay process.

The difference between us and all other animals:
Our impact. All other critters adapt to the environment. We adapt the environment to ourselves. There's nothing wrong with that as long as it's sustainable...as long as we are good stewards.

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31240900)

That's a fairly precarious argument...

ants provide a service to nature by tilling the soil and fertilizing it with their mounds of droppings. they are also part of the food chain.

This is a issue of framing. They are just doing what is best for them. Other organisms have taken advantage of what they are doing to gain for themselves. We do the same, and a number of organisms have profited from it - i.e. rats, human diseases etc. I suspect if we were static technologically for long enough an entire ecosystem would build up around us that would complete most if not all the cycles currently left wasted.

Our impact. All other critters adapt to the environment. We adapt the environment to ourselves. There's nothing wrong with that as long as it's sustainable...as long as we are good stewards.

Beavers are one example. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niche_construction [wikipedia.org] for more.

Re:Proof Read Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31231094)

Nothing humans do is any more unnatural than ants making tunnels or chimps using sticks as tools.

I agree with your reasoning. But if we take it one step further...

"Your honor, my client is not guilty of murder. The victim died of natural causes."

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

jcwayne (995747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31234620)

Just because we have consciousness does not mean we get to proclaim ourselves superior to and ungoverned by nature.

Actually, it does. It just doesn't make it true.

Re:Proof Read Much? (5, Funny)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229786)

Proof Read Much?

Proofread much?

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

popeye44 (929152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31231216)

roof reading hat's that?

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229808)

I give up. What about that sentence is wrong?

Re:Proof Read Much? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31229870)

The gate can be used TO squeeze the electron channel to nothing without the use of junctions or doping.

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31239616)

Could be the copy writer used the squeeze....

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 4 years ago | (#31241402)

I can used the squeeze?

Does this mean all your base, collector, and emitter are belong to us?

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 4 years ago | (#31241194)

Thank you. Some days the eyeballs work, some days not so much.

Re:Proof Read Much? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31229878)

I stuck my diode in yo mama's junction.

EE Times is confused? (3, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#31232706)

The writer for EE Times seems to have been confused. The story describes a field-effect transistor. They never had junctions.

What is described is a novel method of making a field-effect transistor.

Doping gradients? (3, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#31232850)

See the Nature abstract: Nanowire transistors without junctions. [nature.com] Quote: "These devices have full CMOS functionality." I don't understand why they are talking about "doping gradients" when they are making FETs.

Wow! Nature.com charges $32 to see the full article!!

Re:Doping gradients? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31233688)

FETs have a doped source and drain. Therefore, there is a gradient between the doped source or drain and the channel.

The gradient is less of an issue in an FET? (3, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#31234864)

Yes, "FETs have a doped source and drain." But my understanding is that there is the doping gradient is far less than that in transistors, and obviously it is done for a different purpose. The doping merely provides the conductivity in the FET body between the source and drain. In an FET, the gradient provides greater efficiency by reducing the resistance around the source and drain contacts.

In a junction transistor, the gradient is abrupt and necessary to the operation of the transistor.

Re:Proof Read Much? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31232732)

This isn't flamebait, this is a valid criticism. However, it's not the article submitter's fault, the stupid error appears in the article itself. This is what modern journalism has fallen to these days; there's no proofreading at all. You'd think a simple grammar checker like many word processors have would eliminate this problem.

On my local paper's website, they let the readers do their proofreading for them in the comments section. It's just pathetic.

Finally... (5, Interesting)

TheGeniusIsOut (1282110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229582)

Something to get excited about in the field of basic electronic components. Virtually ideal transistors that are easy to fabricate will revolutionize the nanoprocessor industry. I can see cell phones with the computing power of todays desktops in the next 5-10 years from this.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31229624)

Wouldn't the computing power of today's desktops in the next 5-10 years from now be what we expect without this revolution?

We already have dual-core ARM9 processors that can beat the crap out of the CPUs from 5-10 years ago.

Re:Finally... (5, Insightful)

Nov Voc (1619289) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229802)

I believe the point is that this revolution is how that will be achieved, rather than through raw optimization. The closer we get to ideal parts, the more likely it is that my cell phone battery can actually handle playing something heavier than Snake for a few days, rather than a couple of hours tops. I'm looking forward to see how quickly this technology progresses, and not just because I am wishing my netbook could be playing TF2 now, instead of just posting on Slashdot while ignoring this circuit analysis presentation.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31234070)

The technology and industry is so mature that by now there is only one thing that matters: (performance/power* consumption)/cost - flops per watts per dollar of manufacturing cost. If this transistor can increase that number more than the competing alternatives, then it will be a winner.

*Google and similar companies have begun to buy property closer and closer to the polar circle and closer and closer to cheap power plants, in order to provide for the need for power and cooling more cheaply.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31230728)

Just to clarify, ARM9 != ARM Cortex A9

ARM9 is a far older design that has been available for many years.

ARM Cortex A9 is an implementation of the current ARMv7 architecture (alongside all the other lesser Cortex processors - A8, A5, M3, etc).

Re:Finally... (5, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229644)

I can see cell phones with the computing power of todays desktops in the next 5-10 years from this.

I can see cell phones with the computing power of todays desktops in the next 5-10 years WITHOUT this.

Re:Finally... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31229700)

I can see cell phones with the computing power of yesterday's (Y2K) desktops NOW.

Re:Finally... (1)

danhuby (759002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229890)

Absolutely.

I have a 10 year old Dell Dimension XPS T500 next to me that I use for testing. It has a Pentium III running at 500MHz (and is still fine for most common tasks today btw).

In my pocket I have an iPhone 3GS which has an ARM Cortex A8 running at 600MHz.

I don't know anything about CPU internals but I suspect the ARM is of a more advanced and modern design, so the difference is probably greater than it seems with a straight MHz comparison. The iPhone also has more RAM.

Re:Finally... (3, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229998)

Yep, the A8 gets 2 DMIPs/Mhz vs the P3 at ~1.1 DMIPS/Mhz.

Re:Finally... (1)

danhuby (759002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230072)

Thanks, I was trying to find those figures :)

Re:Finally... (2, Informative)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31232204)

The A8's theoretical maximum is 2 DMIPS/MHz. The P3's theoretical maximum is 3 DMIPS/MHz. In reality, I suspect the P3 is a bit ahead as it is OoO and -- if code is scheduled right -- can actually achieve the equivalent of ~5 ARM instructions (one complex instruction, 2 simple instructions can be decoded each cycle) each cycle.

The ARM is in-order and can decode/issue only 2 ARM ops per cycle. Of course, the A8 uses far fewer transistors than even the earlier P3's without its cache.

Re:Finally... (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31235578)

Coders working with the beagleboard have found the A8 to be roughly on-par with a P3 per mhz.

Most SoCs containing an A8, such as the OMAP3530, also have a powerful DSP co-processor and SGX 530 GPU. Skilled coders can offload a lot - and all this consumes about 400mw.

Re:Finally... (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229906)

I can literally see one....

Mine has a 600Mhz ARM CPU and 256MB RAM. I think I was using a AMD K6/2 350Mhz in 2000.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31230070)

Lame, I was running an athlon 700 slut.

Re:Finally... (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230016)

I can see cell phones with the computing power of todays desktops in the next 5-10 years from this.

I can see cell phones with the computing power of todays desktops in the next 5-10 years WITHOUT this.

And I still won't have good coverage by my house, and the monthly bill will still be half a car payment, and all I want is a phone to make and receive calls.

Re:Finally... (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230978)

and all I want is a phone to make and receive calls

"...and those damn kids off my lawn!"

Re:Finally... (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31232670)

Move to a country with almost 100% coverage and stop complaining.

I'll sell you a phone like that for £20. BNIB. 30 day contract. No ID needed.

Re:Finally... (3, Funny)

tyrione (134248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31234774)

Move to a country with almost 100% coverage and stop complaining.

I'll sell you a phone like that for £20. BNIB. 30 day contract. No ID needed.

That's cost effective. Just relocate your belongings to a foreign country, set up residency, get a job all for the chance to have 5 bars. Brilliant!

Re:Finally... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31238072)

I guarantee that if you relocate to the UK, you will have a lot more than three bars. The village where I grew up (population a bit under 2,000) had three pubs, two of which had two bars, one of which had three.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31234874)

I still won't have good coverage by my house, and the monthly bill will still be half a car payment

In which part of Africa do you live?

Re:Finally... (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230516)

I can see cell phones with the computing power of todays desktops in the next 5-10 years WITHOUT this.

It's a witch. A witch! Fire! Fire!

Re:Finally... (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31231400)

I can see cell phones with the computing power of todays desktops in the next 5-10 years WITHOUT this.

Sure, assuming we get a revolution in power storage/generation/transmission of a suitable size.

One of the problems with making smaller silicon transistors is the leakage currents start to creep back up higher. This means more power consumption for the same speed. That's in addition to the normal increase in power consumption that goes along with faster clock rates. This type of transistor would sidestep this issue, as well as avoid the limitations of photolithography.

Re:Finally... (1)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31233390)

I can see cell phones with the computing power of todays desktops in the next 5-10 years WITHOUT this.

Sure, assuming we get a revolution in power storage/generation/transmission of a suitable size.

One of the problems with making smaller silicon transistors is the leakage currents start to creep back up higher. This means more power consumption for the same speed. That's in addition to the normal increase in power consumption that goes along with faster clock rates. This type of transistor would sidestep this issue, as well as avoid the limitations of photolithography.

Not really - you're telling the Y2K story here. In reality, nobody has cared much about instructions per second (i.e. "Moore's Law") for the last decade or so - the driver of modern technology has been instructions per second PER WATT.

As others have noted - the P3-500 type box that was the prevalent computing equipment of the year 2000 can be reasonably approximated by a modern smartphone. Without "nanowires" and similar stuff that is good for a neat press-release every couple years (like, uh, this one from 2005: http://www.physorg.com/news4889.html [physorg.com] ). Materials technology hasn't stood still, layouts are getting smarter, architectures that re-use electrons for more than one task, smarter branch-predictions and, in the end, better integration of component building blocks

Re:Finally... (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31233512)

I can see cell phones with the computing power of todays desktops in the next 5-10 years from this.

I can see cell phones with the computing power of todays desktops in the next 5-10 years WITHOUT this.

...that you still have to interact with by "typing" with your thumbs.

PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS!

Itty-bitty interface.

(With insincere apologies to Disney.)

Re:Finally... (1)

holmstar (1388267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31252090)

And that is supposed to just magically happen? This breakthrough will likely be one of the things that makes your statement possible.

Re:Finally... (5, Insightful)

jibster (223164) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229684)

Virtually ideal transistors that are easy to fabricate will revolutionize the nanoprocessor industry.

I didn't see anything that suggested fabrication would be easy. In fact the article mentions that e-beam lithography was used. If e-beam lithography is a neccessary component then you won't see this in the mainstream anytime soon. The process is slow. So slow it is never used for industrial applications. That said, it is used in acidemia all the time because nothing allows you to get build smaller structures.

Re:Finally... (3, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229826)

I didn't see anything that suggested fabrication would be easy.

Besides, we all know what Academics mean when they say in the next 5-10 years.

Re:Finally... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31229900)

Yes, they mean "please fund my research".

This tech might bring back American computers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31240392)

I would like to see progression in technology as this, so we can look into all the earlier fabricated American semi-conductors to see how universaly-scalable they can be re-implemented to compete with existing hardware as it were.

DEC Alpha (21264) in a USB stick? 386 wristwatch?

Come on, you know you want something other than Intel and AMD friction!

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31240644)

For the record, academics estimate conservatively and write 5^10 years. It's the editors that assume it's a typo and change it to 5-10 years.

Re:Finally... (5, Funny)

metamechanical (545566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229848)

That said, it is used in acidemia all the time because nothing allows you to get build smaller structures.

I've never heard such a caustic opinion of our universities! You must have sulfered much at their hands!

Re:Finally... (0, Redundant)

SiChemist (575005) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230560)

I dunno, I think you're way off base with your comment. It doesn't pass my litmus test for thoughtful commentary.

Re:Finally... (2, Funny)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 4 years ago | (#31231942)

At least he wasn't lyed to!

Re:Finally... (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 4 years ago | (#31238396)

He probably didn't get the pHD he wanted so much.

Re:Finally... (3, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229908)

I didn't see anything that suggested fabrication would be easy.

I saw the headline but thats about all I read.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31230008)

I totally agree, if you can't put it into mass production, its not going to change anything for the general public. Process tolerances for manufacturing are much greater than they are for R&D or lab tests. Labs don't have to worry about having 10 parallel lines running simultaneously 24X7.

Re:Finally... (2, Insightful)

stevusmichaels (1751474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31231272)

The lack of junctions certainly removes many fabrication steps. And e-beam lithography isn't necessary, it's just the patterning method they use. So it's only a matter of being able to match the feature size with another lithography method. I'm fairly certain 10nm lines made by photolithography have been demonstrated, which is what this structure is suggested for.

Re:Finally... (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 4 years ago | (#31238586)

10nm lines? Not with conventional (ArF) or even immersion litho. It would have to be EUV or E-beam.

Re:Finally... (2, Interesting)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31232330)

The article itself suggests this. I'm not familiar enough with lithography to comment on the equipment -- it could very well be prohibitive -- but the actual structure of the transistor would be far simpler; making it easier in the sense that there will be less variation in process to deal with.

With no need for two junctions, there will be no danger of latch-ups; less source/drain capacitance and most importantly, the smallest feature size will no longer be just part of the transistor.

Not having access to the full article, I'm not entirely certain of the details of how this FET is constructed but from the description, it sounds like a piece of silicon surrounded by thin oxide and attached to a metal. This, in principle, is similar to dual-gate FETs, only it takes it a few steps further.

What struck me is that the article mentioned that no doping is required; which would be odd considering polysilicon isn't a semiconductor by itself.

Re:Finally... (0, Redundant)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31234324)

I didn't see anything that suggested fabrication would be easy.

What about this part from TFA?

These structures are easy to fabricate even on a miniature scale which leads to the major breakthrough in potential cost reduction

... Just sayin' ...

Re:Finally... (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31236952)

If they are easier, as the article actually says they should be, to manufacture, then hopefully yields will be higher. Time not spent making parts for the bin could then be used for extra litho time if necessary.

Re:Finally... (2, Insightful)

who knows my name (1247824) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229834)

meh, nanowires have been around for ages. Great, they've found a nice way of gating it, but really that's it. This is just a press release...
When they find a way of doing this without e-beam then it might be useful in industry.

Re:Finally... (1)

Tibia1 (1615959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229960)

Agreed. I'm going to have so much fun telling all the skeptics I told you so. Technology is exploding faster than anyone realizes.

Re:Finally... (2, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229968)

5-10? more probably will be around 20. Inertia happens. xkcd [xkcd.com] too.

Re:Finally... (5, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230086)

Something to get excited about in the field of basic electronic components.

It's an interesting bit of basic research. There's probably another decade of almost-as-basic research to be done before we'll know if this will ever get out of the lab.

There are uncountably many interesting phenomena that never make it out of the lab for every one that does. Doing the basic research is a necessary aspect of technological innovation, but it is by no means sufficient, and the ability to do something on a small-scale with hands-on expertise is no indication that it will be useful or usable in an industrial setting.

One of the problems with tech news reporting is that the continual stream of stories like this one, full of breathless anticipation, is never followed by an honest review five years later of where the "breakthrough" ended up, which means "breakthroughs" tend to fade quietly from memory without any awareness or acknowledgement that they didn't pan out as expected.

If we saw more followups on ideas that never got beyond the "interesting phenomenon" stage we'd have a greater appreciation for the tiny fraction of innovations that do live to see the light of day in industrial applications. But that would require tech reporters to do more than lightly edit press releases and call them "news".

Finally (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230126)

Now we will can run Crysis!! wooot!

Re:Finally... (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230410)

Yeah, but vacuum tubes still create a warmer sound.

Re:Finally... (1)

jitendraharlalka (1702444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230420)

Well, the invention really looks interesting! The point is how much it can help save power cost and how scalable the architecture is

Re:Finally... (3, Interesting)

TheGeniusIsOut (1282110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31232294)

Too many divergent threads with faulty assumptions to respond to each individually, and obviously many of you did not bother to read beyond the summary, if that.

Just because your iPhone has a 600MHz processor does not make it equivalent to a 10 year old computer. It is not running a fully functional operating system, does not have the same capabilities as a desktop system of that era even in sheer number crunching capabilities, and if your portable device attempted such, it would quickly drain the batteries due to inefficient components that lose a significant portion of their energy to current leakage and heat dissipation, while at the same time overheating the components themselves to a point of failure. Try using you iPhone to render high polygon count 3D models and see how it performs. Besides these simple points, there were distinct leaps in production technology that allow this approximation of performance to even occur. More efficient chip based transistors being a primary factor of not needing a large cooling system attached to the back of your phone to allow your display to show you video at a decent framerate

A virtually ideal component is one that is almost 100% efficient, with little to no leakage and heat loss. With the reduction in waste heat, more components can be in close proximity to one another without interfering in their operation by skewing values due to heating. This new design is much faster than a traditional transistor, requires much less energy to bias, and is easy to manufacture.

From the second page of the article:

"The current flows in a very thin silicon wire and the flow of current is perfectly controlled by a `wedding ring` structure that electrically squeezes the silicon wire in the same way that you might stop the flow of water in a hose by squeezing it. These structures are easy to fabricate even on a miniature scale which leads to the major breakthrough in potential cost reduction," explained Professor Colinge.

This squeezing is a biasing voltage, and no actual current flow through the gate is required, only a potential. Since there is no valence junction to bias before current can flow from source to drain, you do not need to supply signals of sufficient voltage to be registered, again requiring much less energy to operate.

Cost reduction is another key benefit of this technology, rather than having to grow the silicates with an inaccurate doping method over a preformed substrate, which leads to inefficiencies in power consumption and the need for large transition zones due to no two junction type semiconductors having the exact same biasing voltages, which is why standard CMOS is off at 0.8V or lower, and generally on at 2.0V or higher, depending on tolerance. Transistors using less power to transition from one state to the other require less powerful power supplies, enabling even more compact designs, and to top it off, the technology is robust enough to directly interface with CMOS.

I realize it takes more than a cursory knowledge of electronics to understand the true implications of this, which is why a number of you have made incorrect assumptions, but with a bit of extra reading, I firmly believe that at least some of you could become as excited about this breakthrough as I am.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31242120)

This squeezing is a biasing voltage, and no actual current flow through the gate is required, only a potential. Since there is no valence junction to bias before current can flow from source to drain, you do not need to supply signals of sufficient voltage to be registered, again requiring much less energy to operate.

Which is how any FET works, however the niggling problem here is that there is nonzero capacitance associated with the gate that you have to charge and drain every cycle. You might not think pumping 10pF capacitance accounts up to much energy but try doing that 250 million times a second. Yeah, yeah, I know Cg is defined in Coulombs usually, which is a bit annoying as it depends on the gate voltage and makes it more work to compare different models.

I didn't see anything in the article implying the gate charge is going anywhere so these devices will be hardly "ideal". Naturally microprocessor FETs are differently optimized than power MOSFETs so the switching losses are nowhere near the level they're in SMPS transistors but it's still there.

Re:Finally... (2, Insightful)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31233164)

I definitely don't see how these are any "easier to make" than random MOSFETs (of which we make a billion to a chip these days and they all work out of the box).

I also don't really see how much "more ideal" they are than MOSFETs. In the end you're going to have to send a couple electrons around. The average transistor these days is switched by maybe a hundred electrons or so (maybe a few hundred, I haven't kept up with the field in the last 10 years). You're definitely not going to get that number below 1 electron for pure quantization reasons, and sheer statistical reliability will probably require many tens of them - so there's not much more "idealness" left to be squeezed out of the concept of "a small switch".

Quite frankly, nanowires have attained the status of nuclear fusion: always just around the corner in terms of economic/technological feasibility.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to the day when Moore's law hits a brick wall and people are forced to start thinking in better terms than "I want the same thing that I had last year, only faster and cheaper". Because that thinking has stunted actual (qualitative, not quantitative) technological progress for the last two decades.

Cliché (0, Offtopic)

killmenow (184444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229612)

Netcraft now confirms: in Soviet Russia, a beowulf cluster of these imagines Natalie Portman with hot grits; thereby answering the question "Does it run Linux?"

...you insensitive clod.

Re:Cliché (0)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229706)

Netcraft now confirms: in Soviet Russia, a beowulf cluster of these imagines Natalie Portman with hot grits; thereby answering the question "Does it run Linux?"

...you insensitive clod.

yes, but who will think of the children?

Re:Cliché (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31229814)

Only old people, in Korea at least.

Progress (1)

xbeefsupreme (1690182) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229758)

We're one step closer to getting a flux capacitor.

Re:Progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31229990)

You mean a component that can accumulate flux? I believe that is called an inductor.

Re:Progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31230116)

Yeah, after I took my intro to EE class the next time I watched that movie I had the same thought.

Re:Progress (1)

xbeefsupreme (1690182) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230354)

You've never seen back to the future, have you?

Cark (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229882)

Cark boiiiiiiiiii!!!

Re:Cark (1)

CockMonster (886033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230224)

Pure daycent

Yawn. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31229986)

Old news. This kind of thing has been thrown around a lot, for several years.

But some university made a single transistor, and now suddenly the revolution is forthcoming. Last week it was graphene transistors, the week before that, 100GHz transistors on diamond.

This is the direction that things are probably going to move - different geometries, wrap-around gates to improve gate control - and there's going to be a lot of materials science and new (to CMOS) materials needed. But we're not there yet, we're quite a ways out... and in many ways, this isn't even the limiting factor in microprocessors - it's wire delay, parasitic capacitances. That's why so many groups and corporations are focusing on silicon and polysilicon waveguides - using light as an interconnect, nearly lossless, instant, no parasitic coupling (ideally).

I don't want to downplay what they did *too* much... but universities piss me off when they just become a PR machine. It's just plain irresponsible; it's a pissing match, and if just half of the things they claimed were true, that how things are right now would seem like the dark ages.

Re:Yawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31237544)

Also reach-around gates that can aim electrons upon release.

Re:Yawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31237930)

Light is instant? Someone needs to tell Einstein.

Was there a whisky shortage? (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230548)

According to legend, God showed the Irish how to make whisky, so that they wouldn't take over the world.

Too many exports from Bushmill's, Jameson, Tullamore, Michael Collins, Clontarf...?

(More power to 'em and all, just trying to better understand the cause.)

hmmm, that looks familiar (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 4 years ago | (#31230688)

Where have I seen that design before?

It's been standard in nanotechnology since 2004 [acs.org] , when the carbon nanotube community used it to create intrinsic nanotube (junctionless) transistors. I really doubt we were the first ones to come up with it either. Nanotubes aren't compatible with CMOS? Well, neither are electron beam lithography defined channels and gates.

First junctionless transistor? (3, Insightful)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31232142)

The article is very slim on details and dead wrong on some important facts.

The gate can be used the squeeze the electron channel to nothing without the use of junctions or doping.

The lack of a junction is not unique, ever heard of a MOSFET [play-hookey.com] , "There is no pn junction, so there is no depletion region."

And I'm curious how they induce conductivity in silicon without dopants, considering that silicon is a semiconductor [wikipedia.org] and a "semiconductor is a material that has an electrical conductivity between that of a conductor and an insulator", therefore "conductivity may easily be modified by introducing impurities into their crystal lattice" via doping.

And the article includes one other statement that is questionable in my opinion...

We have designed and fabricated the world's first junctionless transistor that significantly reduces power consumption ... Another key challenge for the semiconductor industry is reducing the power consumption of microchips. Minimising current leakage is one of the main challenges in today's complex transistors

Gate leakage is an issue but the true bane of transistor power consumption is Rdson (resistance drain to source when transistor is on). The reason for the massive heat sinks and fans on processors today is not due to gate leakage its due to the resistance of the transistor channels and the various interconnects.

Current flowing through the resistive channel and internconnects in the millions of transistors in a processor generates heat for the same reason that a basic carbon based resistor connected to a voltage source will heat up. And increasing the doping level in the gates and poly silicon interconnects reduces resistance, with no doping it seems the problem of power loss through heat generation will only be worse.

The article is somewhat interesting and perhaps it is just a bad article lacking significant detail.

Re:First junctionless transistor? (2, Informative)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31232542)

The lack of a junction is not unique, ever heard of a MOSFET, "There is no pn junction, so there is no depletion region."

I would assume the article means there's no P-N barrier. MOSFETs don't have a gate-junction but they do have 2 sets of wells. From what I could read in the article, this seems like a single sliver of silicon.

Gate leakage is an issue but the true bane of transistor power consumption is Rdson (resistance drain to source when transistor is on). The reason for the massive heat sinks and fans on processors today is not due to gate leakage its due to the resistance of the transistor channels and the various interconnects.

Yes and no. In modern high-performance ASICs -- that is, the ones that run massive heatsinks -- the leakage current is actually close to matching the dynamic current; worst case dynamic current to boot. In 45nm HP, it actually overtakes dynamic current for realistic chip operation on something like a microprocessor; since most of such a chip is idle even at full load.

Granted the future is mobile silicon and those will invariably use thick-gate processes where leakage is, once again, only a small fraction of switching current but that's at a significant sacrifice to switching frequency.

The thing to keep in mind is that dynamic current only occurs for a fraction of the clock period; leakage is constant. With clock-gating being used on just about every chip out there, it's even less of an issue.

Re:First junctionless transistor? (1)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31233598)

it actually overtakes dynamic current for realistic chip operation on something like a microprocessor; since most of such a chip is idle even at full load

I never considered gate leakage to be that much of an issue with power consumption, but I suppose when you have 47+ million transistors the tiny gate leakage current adds up.

Re:First junctionless transistor? (2, Informative)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31233740)

Ever since 65nm, it isn't even "tiny" anymore -- well, relatively speaking. We're talking ~2 uW for an AO22 gate. But again, that's the high-performance processes.

Re:First junctionless transistor? (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31233890)

As we all know in an ideal world the switch ( aka the Gate, Well, PN Junction whatevah ) would simply present either infinite resistance or infinite conductivity and nothing in between but since that is pretty much impossible we are stuck with what we have.

Optics is where the future is, not in electron gates. Ideally there would be a light source ( a single source ) that would provide the signaling for all the components. This was done with mechanical gates, but that still involved the use of electrons to move the microscopic mirrors and production defects counts are still beyond a reasonable level.

The issue is going to come down to being able to control light at the photon level and direct it as required with the smallest amount of energy we can get away with.

Here is something to throw into your brain:

  • Take a gate, in it's simplest form it controls the flow of light. Now how about we make that gate powered by the signal eg: the light itself powers the the gate and the intelligence is controlled by the individual photon stream.

    Design a specific set of components ( each in the NM size ) so a simple add circuit sits completely dormant, no power to it. Suddenly we need to add two numbers. The light source hits the entry point, the light then energizes the entry point. Now individual photons are the instructions ( very simple ones ) that tell it to add the following stream. The device then feeds light to the rest of the circuit and then it takes two different photon streams performs the add and sends the result of ( or back as a photon stream ) and when it is done the light source diverts someplace else and the gate circuit is once again dormant and draws zero (0) power.

Uh, CMOS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31232212)

I found the title to be strange. 99.99% of electronics today, analog and digital, is built with CMOS devices, which are junctionless. The CMOS device gate is a bit of metal, separated from a strip of silicon by glass. The electric field from voltage on the gate constricts the flow of electrons in the silicon. Sounds just like what they are describing, just different materials?

Re:Uh, CMOS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31245896)

I found the title to be strange. 99.99% of electronics today, analog and digital, is built with CMOS devices, which are junctionless. The CMOS device gate is a bit of metal, separated from a strip of silicon by glass. The electric field from voltage on the gate constricts the flow of electrons in the silicon. Sounds just like what they are describing, just different materials?

Not CMOS (two fets), rather, FETs.

Wedding ring (1)

Froboz23 (690392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31234310)

FTA:

Control gate like wedding ring

I can assure you from personal experience that a wedding ring does operate like a control gate structure.

If this device works as described, this is a huge breakthrough. But the devil is in the details. Hopefully it can be reliably manufactured.

LEDs? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31235252)

I wonder what uses this will have in the LED sector, if any at all.

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