Nano Technologies in Electronics

Professor Steve Gudnik of the University of Arizona leads the initiative on nanoelectronics, as well as a center for research and design materials for solar energy.

Nanoelectronics and materials: We reach the limits of Moore’s law, where it is already impossible to create a scale for the elements of an electronic device. Transistors have become nonplanar and more like nanowires than devices (for example, FINFET is increasingly used by companies like Intel).

There is a tendency to avoid the use of silicon as an active layer (however, the substrate is still silicon), with increasingly frequent use of silicon-germanium materials and compounds of compound A III B V. Graphene was once considered a promising material, but for transistors that are used in digital logic, the absence of a prohibited zone turned it into an inappropriate candidate for this purpose.

However, in the last few years, other 2D materials, such as dichalcogenides of transition metals (for example, MoS2), black phosphorus, in a sense similar to graphene, are of great interest, among others.

To date, the transport properties of existing materials leave much to be desired (much lower mobility than silicon and A III B V compound materials). Topical insulators are a topical topic: materials that are insulators in general, but because of the symmetry properties they have a graphene-like structure on the surface, which theoretically has low scattering and high mobility of the current carriers (this remains to be demonstrated).

Another problem is power dissipation and scaling. While the threshold voltage decreases to reduce power, the current in the closed state becomes too large, and the static power dissipation begins to predominate over the energy consumption.

On devices with low subthreshold current slope, a lot of work still needs to be done (the lower this metric, the steeper the disconnection with voltage). Tunnel field-effect transistors are also a widely discussed topic.

At present, two ways are being developed: the first is neural-morphic calculations, that is, traditional transistors, but parallel analog computations, such as neural networks. The second one is spintronics, the control of the electronic spin as logic or information containing a state, both for storage (MRAM, which Motorola gave out many years ago as Everspin), so now, for logic. Investigations of oscillators and devices with a torque are in progress.

Nanophotonics: There is an increasing interest in terahertz mode, which is difficult to achieve with the help of optoelectronic or electronic devices. Technologies such as a quantum cascade laser are nanostructured devices that have demonstrated operation in a mode close to terahertz. Nanoplasmonics and metamaterials also continue to play an important role for many optical and EM applications.

Nano-energy: Innovations will continue in photovoltaic devices using nanostructured systems to improve the collection of light. Storage technologies, such as batteries and fuel cells, use nanotechnology materials for anodes and cathodes to increase the effective surface area and its catalytic properties.

Nanomedicine: Modern achievements lay the foundation for the development of future innovative diagnostic applications and new therapeutic options, as well as nanomaterials for the development of cellular / molecular biology and tissue engineering.

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