17 December 2008—At this year’s International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), in San Francisco, there are two big themes: One is the 22-nanometer CMOS technology node and how we’re going to get there; the other is what’s being called More Than Moore—the tricks and workarounds that designers will need to go beyond the kind of speed and density increases provided by Moore’s Law. Some tricks, like three-dimensional stacking and investigations into compound semiconductor materials, have been under development for a long time. But others are stranger than fiction, like a carbon phase-change memory that Qimonda is working on and MIT’s terahertz transistor. Here are a few developments that caught our eye.
T-ray Terror: MIT engineers have devised a freaky-looking but record-setting device they say is optimized for a very high frequency of operation in analog and communications applications as well as in high-speed logic. Called an E-mode InAs PHEMTs (enhancement-mode indium arsenide p -type high-electron mobility transistor), it sets a record of more than 600 gigahertz for both f T (the maximum frequency at which the transistors provide a gain in current) and f max (the device’s maximum switching frequency). The 600 GHz measurement is well into the range of terahertz radiation, a difficult-to-get-to part of the spectrum that’s handy for seeing through clothing and identifying explosives at a distance. ”It is a very flexible technology with many possible applications at the leading edge,” says MIT’s Jesus del Alamo.