Scientists headed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed world’s smallest transistor. It is only about of 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide as a human hair. The smaller size means great performance in integrated circuits by populating them with greater amounts of incredibly small components.
According to scientists, this could help them to keep Moore’s law alive. Moore’s law predicts that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit will double approximately every two years by enabling more complex and powerful computer processors.
Transistors already have a small size. Still, scientists are trying to make them smaller. They were considered as the theoretical limit. Because, once you go smaller than that with silicon, a phenomenon called quantum tunneling occurs. Thanks to the scientists from University of California, Berkeley, we have got previously considered 5-nanometre threshold as the peak of transistor miniaturization.
Conventional transistors use silicon materials. Because electrons flowing through the circuitry encounter low amounts of resistance. But now, scientists used carbon nanotubes with a material called Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). Through this, they were able to hit the 1-nanometre limit.
MoS2 encounter greater resistance and this slow-down effect is actually beneficial. When the transistors become extremely small, because it helps to control electron behavior.
Ali Javey, the head of Berkeley Lab’s Materials Science Division said, “We made the smallest transistor reported to date. We demonstrated a 1-nanometre-gate transistor. It shows that with the choice of proper materials, there is a lot more room to shrink our electronics.”
Using MoS2 instead of silicon, the signals can once more be controlled. While experimenting, it showed that the transistor effectively controlled the flow of electrons. It even gives a benefit of enabling better computer performance in computers.
Desai said, “The semiconductor industry has long assumed that any gate below 5 nanometers wouldn’t work. So anything below that was not even considered.”
“This research shows that sub 5-nanometer gates should not be discounted. By changing the material from silicon to MoS2 we can make a transistor with a gate. It will be just 1 nanometer in length, and operate it like a switch,” he continues.
Beyond their success, scientists acknowledge that there’s a long way to go before we’ll be using 1-nanometre transistors in our computers and mobile devices.
Javey said, “This work demonstrated the shortest transistor ever. However, it’s a proof of concept. We have not yet packed these transistors onto a chip, and we haven’t done this billion of times over.”