from the not-dead-yet dept.
[Researchers] at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, believe a metal-based field emission air channel transistor (ACT) they have developed could maintain transistor doubling for another two decades.
The team has developed a functional proof of concept and is currently working to improve stability and efficiency.
"Unlike conventional transistors that have to sit in silicon bulk, our device is a bottom-to-top fabrication approach starting with a substrate. This enables us to build fully 3D transistor networks, if we can define optimum air gaps," says Shruti Nirantar, lead author of a paper on the new transistor published this month in Nano Letters [DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b02849] [DX]. "This means we can stop pursuing miniaturization, and instead focus on compact 3D architecture, allowing more transistors per unit volume."
[...] Looking further ahead, she points out that the theoretical speed of an ACT is in the terahertz range, some 10 thousand times as fast as the speed at which current semiconductor devices work.
The approach also has a number of compelling advantages over traditional silicon semiconductors including far fewer processing steps, simpler fabrication on any dielectric surface, and better resistance to radiation.
"With [industry] help and sufficient research funding, there is the potential to develop commercial-grade field emission air-channel transistors within the next decade—and that's a generous timeline. With the right partners, this could happen more quickly."