Research Demonstrates Single-charge-detection Capability of Nanowire Field-effect Transistors

Semiconductor nanowire potential unlocked at room temperatures

Ruda, Harry E.

Photo: Harry E. Ruda, Professor & Stan Meek Chair in Advanced Nanotechnology

September 27, 2010

Future storage, computing and sensing technologies will invariably rely on an ability to measure ever smaller amounts of charge at the fastest possible speeds. To date, state-of-the art single electron transistors have held the record, but required cooling to extremely low temperatures (i.e. some 270°C below room temperature).

Professor Harry Ruda and his research group in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering was able to demonstrate recently the use of nanowire transistors to give comparable performance at temperatures close to room temperature, exceeding the performance of alternative approaches that work at close to room temperature (e.g., nanomechanical systems and conventional field effect transistors) by several orders of magnitude.

The nanowire transistors are so sensitive that they may be turned from conducting to insulating devices as a result of a single electron, with sensitivity down to about a hundred thousandth of one electron charge when measured at a frequency of one hertz. With optimization, the authors are optimistic that these devices can likely yield a further order of magnitude improvement in performance. Numerous practical applications of this new technology are envisaged, as is providing an exciting new tool to probing physical phenomena.

The results of the research were published September 19th on; follow the link to read the scientific paper.