Superconductor ICs: the 100-GHz second generation

In the shadow of high-temperature superconductivity, 35 years of research in low-temperature superconductor ICs quietly comes to fruition, yielding the world's fastest circuits

16 min read
Superconductor ICs: the 100-GHz second generation

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IMAGE: JAMES LUKENS, STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT STONY BROOK
[1] Researchers have demonstrated simple digital frequency dividers with Josephson junctions that have 0.25-µm minimum features and that operate at data rates up to 770 Gb/s. They rely on rapid single flux quantum (RSFQ) circuits, whose speed grows as junction sizes shrink. At 0.25 µm, the junctions are intrinsically nonhysteretic, a good sign for the future of complex chips operating at clock frequencies of 100 GHz.

The fastest integrated circuits in the world today are unique for their technology as well as for their speed. They are made with a superconducting metal, niobium, rather than a compound semiconductor. Their exotic technology is based on Josephson junction devices and the transmission of single quanta of magnetic flux along superconductor interconnects.

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