Microchip manufacturers have long faced challenges miniaturizing transistors, the key active components in nearly every modern electronic device, which are used to amplify or switch electronic signals.
Now, researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, Purdue University and IBM have successfully grown silicon-germanium semiconducting nanowires for potential use in next-generation transistors.
These nanowires which measure from a few tens to a few hundreds of nanometers in diameter and up to several millimeters in length could help speed the development of smaller, faster and more powerful electronics, according to study co-author Suneel Kodambaka, a UCLA professor of materials science and engineering.
The team's research appears in the Nov. 27 issue of the journal Science.
"We are excited for two reasons," said Frances Ross, manager of IBM's Nanoscale Materials Analysis department and corresponding author of the study. "One is that we have extended our knowledge of the fundamental physics of the process by which nanowires grow. The other is the improved prospect of using nanowires in high-performance electronic devices."
"The nanowires are so small you can place them in virtually anything," Kodambaka said. "Because of their small size, they are capable of having distinctly different properties, compared to their bulk counterparts."
The team showed they could create nanowires with layers of different materials, specifically silicon and germanium, that were defect-free and atomically sharp at the junction critical requirements for making efficient transistors out of the tiny structures. The "sharper" the interface between the material layers in this case, just one atom, or close to one atom, thick the better the electronic properties.
"We think this study is significant because it provides a solution to the problem of growing shar
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University of California - Los Angeles