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posted by takyon on Sunday December 02 2018, @11:19PM   Printer-friendly
from the not-dead-yet dept.

New Metal-Air Transistor Replaces Semiconductors

[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.

Narantir concludes:

"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."

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  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 03 2018, @12:47AM (3 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 03 2018, @12:47AM (#769009) Journal

    Potential multi-THz clock speeds, layers, ...

    Oh boy!

    Terahertz radiation []: "...also known as submillimeter radiation". It will be a nightmare to optimize the MB traces - Cray [] shows it's not impossible, but not necessary cheap.

    Clocks? You need something stable and with enough power for all components on the MB (to quash parasitic oscillations and drive everything in forced oscillation mode) - not impossible but not quite an easy thing to do with the current solid-state devices [].

    One on top of the other, it will be some time until the tech makes it into mobile phones.

    Even if the clock speeds disappoint...

    I don't get it. Are you trying to say you'll be disappointed of a TeraHz CPU clock-frequency?

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  • (Score: 2) by RandomFactor on Monday December 03 2018, @01:06AM (1 child)

    by RandomFactor (3682) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 03 2018, @01:06AM (#769017) Journal []
    I think I'll settle for this in the desktop at my feet nicely encased in comforting steel.

    В «Правде» нет известий, в «Известиях» нет правды
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by coolgopher on Monday December 03 2018, @01:09AM

      by coolgopher (1157) on Monday December 03 2018, @01:09AM (#769018)

      Hmm, if you encase your feet in comforting steel, you might want to consider getting some plumbing installed too...

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday December 03 2018, @01:32AM

    by takyon (881) <> on Monday December 03 2018, @01:32AM (#769024) Journal

    We probably aren't going to jump from ~4-5 Ghz to 1 THz overnight. Maybe we'll see 10 GHz, or higher frequencies for chips that would normally have 0.1-2 GHz clock speeds due to power consumption concerns.

    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []