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First Gallium-Based FinFETs

Purdue researchers take compound semiconductors into the third dimension

4 min read
First Gallium-Based FinFETs

23 November 2009—Silicon researchers envision that future generations of transistors will evolve from the flat structures they are now to three-dimensional devices called FinFETs, where two or more narrow fins are the critical features. Now research into better-performing—but more-expensive—compound semiconductors has caught up. Engineers at Purdue University’s Birck Nanotechnology Center have created the first FinFETs, or fin-shaped field-effect transistors, made of a compound semiconductor called indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs). If such devices can be integrated into complex circuits, they could improve cellphone communication and make for chips that compute faster.

Compound semiconductors, the stuff of high-frequency circuits and optoelectronics, are among the leading contenders to replace silicon in electronic circuits when Moore’s Law runs out of steam. They make transistors that switch faster and more efficiently, which could solve some of the big problems facing future generations of silicon integrated circuits. But they have even more trouble than silicon when shrunk to the tiny sizes of today’s transistors: Mainly, they leak.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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