Carbon nanotube field-effect transistor

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A carbon nanotube field-effect transistor (CNTFET) refers to a field-effect transistor that utilizes a single carbon nanotube or an array of carbon nanotubes as the channel material instead of bulk silicon in the traditional MOSFET structure. First demonstrated in 1998, there have been major developments in CNTFETs since. [1] [2]

The field-effect transistor (FET) is an electronic device which uses an electric field to control the flow of current. This is achieved by the application of a voltage to the gate terminal, which in turn alters the conductivity between the drain and source terminals.

Carbon nanotube allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure. These cylindrical carbon molecules have unusual properties, which are valuable for nanotechnology, electronics, optics, and other fields of materials science and technology. Owing to the material's exceptional strength and stiffness, nanotubes have been constructed with a length-to-diameter ratio of up to 132,000,000:1, significantly larger than that for any other material.

Silicon Chemical element with atomic number 14

Silicon is a chemical element with symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it. It is relatively unreactive. Because of its high chemical affinity for oxygen, it was not until 1823 that Jöns Jakob Berzelius was first able to prepare it and characterize it in pure form. Its melting and boiling points of 1414 °C and 3265 °C respectively are the second-highest among all the metalloids and nonmetals, being only surpassed by boron. Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth's crust. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. More than 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen.

Contents

Introduction and background

A diagram showing that a carbon nanotube is essentially rolled up graphene Roll-up.jpg
A diagram showing that a carbon nanotube is essentially rolled up graphene

According to Moore's law, the dimensions of individual devices in an integrated circuit have been decreased by a factor of approximately two every two years. This scaling down of devices has been the driving force in technological advances since the late 20th century. However, as noted by ITRS 2009 edition, further scaling down has faced serious limits related to fabrication technology and device performances as the critical dimension shrunk down to sub-22 nm range. [3] The limits involve electron tunneling through short channels and thin insulator films, the associated leakage currents, passive power dissipation, short channel effects, and variations in device structure and doping. [4] These limits can be overcome to some extent and facilitate further scaling down of device dimensions by modifying the channel material in the traditional bulk MOSFET structure with a single carbon nanotube or an array of carbon nanotubes.

Moores law heuristic law stating that the number of transistors on a circuit doubles every two years

Moore's law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. The observation is named after Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and CEO of Intel, whose 1965 paper described a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated circuit and projected this rate of growth would continue for at least another decade. In 1975, looking forward to the next decade, he revised the forecast to doubling every two years. The period is often quoted as 18 months because of a prediction by Intel executive David House.

Electronic structure of carbon nanotubes

Graphene atomic structure with a translational vector T and a chiral vector Ch of a CNT Chiral vector.jpg
Graphene atomic structure with a translational vector T and a chiral vector Ĉh of a CNT
One-dimensional energy dispersion relations for (a) (n,m)=(5,5) metallic tube, (b) (n,m)=(10,0) semiconducting tube. Cntdispersion.jpg
One-dimensional energy dispersion relations for (a) (n,m)=(5,5) metallic tube, (b) (n,m)=(10,0) semiconducting tube.

The exceptional electrical properties of carbon nanotubes arise from the unique electronic structure of graphene itself that can roll up and form a hollow cylinder. The circumference of such carbon nanotube can be expressed in terms of a chiral vector: Ĉh=nâ1+mâ2 which connects two crystallographically equivalent sites of the two-dimensional graphene sheet. Here n and m are integers and â1 and â2 are the unit vectors of the hexagonal honeycomb lattice. Therefore, the structure of any carbon nanotube can be described by an index with a pair of integers (n,m) that define its chiral vector.

In terms of the integers (n,m), the nanotube diameter dt and the chiral angle θ are given by:

. [5]

The differences in the chiral angle and the diameter cause the differences in the properties of the various carbon nanotubes. For example, it can be shown that an (n,m) carbon nanotube is metallic when n = m, has a small gap (i.e. semi-metallic) when nm = 3i, where i is an integer, and is semiconducting when nm ≠ 3i. [6] This is due to the fact that the periodic boundary conditions for the one-dimensional carbon nanotubes permit only a few wave vectors to exist around the circumference of carbon nanotubes. Metallic conduction occurs when one of these wave vectors passes through the K-point of graphene’s 2D hexagonal Brillouin zone, where the valence and conduction bands are degenerate. [5] For the semiconducting carbon nanotubes, there is a diameter dependency on bandgap. For example, according to a single-particle tight-binding description of the electronic structure, where γ is the hopping matrix element, and a is the carbon–carbon bond distance. [7]

Brillouin zone Primitive cell in the reciprocal space lattice of crystals

In mathematics and solid state physics, the first Brillouin zone is a uniquely defined primitive cell in reciprocal space. In the same way the Bravais lattice is divided up into Wigner–Seitz cells in the real lattice, the reciprocal lattice is broken up into Brillouin zones. The boundaries of this cell are given by planes related to points on the reciprocal lattice. The importance of the Brillouin zone stems from the Bloch wave description of waves in a periodic medium, in which it is found that the solutions can be completely characterized by their behavior in a single Brillouin zone.

Motivations for transistor applications

A carbon nanotube’s bandgap is directly affected by its chirality and diameter. If those properties can be controlled, CNTs would be a promising candidate for future nano-scale transistor devices. Moreover, because of the lack of boundaries in the perfect and hollow cylinder structure of CNTs, there is no boundary scattering. CNTs are also quasi-1D materials in which only forward scattering and back scattering are allowed, and elastic scattering means that free paths in carbon nanotubes are long, typically on the order of micrometers. As a result, quasi-ballistic transport can be observed in nanotubes at relatively long lengths and low fields. [8] Because of the strong covalent carbon–carbon bonding in the sp2 configuration, carbon nanotubes are chemically inert and are able to transport large amounts of electric current. In theory, carbon nanotubes are also able to conduct heat nearly as well as diamond or sapphire, and because of their miniaturized dimensions, the CNTFET should switch reliably using much less power than a silicon-based device. [9]

Chirality property of asymmetry

Chirality is a property of asymmetry important in several branches of science. The word chirality is derived from the Greek χειρ (kheir), "hand," a familiar chiral object.

Device fabrication

There are many types of CNTFET devices; a general survey of the most common geometries are covered below.

Back-gated CNTFETs

CNTFET Backgate Topview.jpg
Top view
CNTFET Backgate Sideview3.jpg
Side view
Top and side view of carbon nanotubes deposited on a silicon oxide substrate pre-patterned with source and drain contacts.

The earliest techniques for fabricating carbon nanotube (CNT) field-effect transistors involved pre-patterning parallel strips of metal across a silicon dioxide substrate, and then depositing the CNTs on top in a random pattern. [1] [2] The semiconducting CNTs that happened to fall across two metal strips meet all the requirements necessary for a rudimentary field-effect transistor. One metal strip is the "source" contact while the other is the "drain" contact. The silicon oxide substrate can be used as the gate oxide and adding a metal contact on the back makes the semiconducting CNT gateable.

This technique suffered from several drawbacks, which made for non-optimized transistors. The first was the metal contact, which actually had very little contact to the CNT, since the nanotube just lay on top of it and the contact area was therefore very small. Also, due to the semiconducting nature of the CNT, a Schottky barrier forms at the metal-semiconductor interface, [10] increasing the contact resistance. The second drawback was due to the back-gate device geometry. Its thickness made it difficult to switch the devices on and off using low voltages, and the fabrication process led to poor contact between the gate dielectric and CNT. [11]

Top-gated CNTFETs

The process for fabricating a top-gated CNTFET. CNTFET Topgate Fab.jpg
The process for fabricating a top-gated CNTFET.

Eventually, researchers migrated from the back-gate approach to a more advanced top-gate fabrication process. [11] In the first step, single-walled carbon nanotubes are solution deposited onto a silicon oxide substrate. Individual nanotubes are then located via atomic force microscope or scanning electron microscope. After an individual tube is isolated, source and drain contacts are defined and patterned using high resolution electron beam lithography. A high temperature anneal step reduces the contact resistance by improving adhesion between the contacts and CNT.[ citation needed ] A thin top-gate dielectric is then deposited on top of the nanotube, either via evaporation or atomic layer deposition. Finally, the top gate contact is deposited on the gate dielectric, completing the process.

Arrays of top-gated CNTFETs can be fabricated on the same wafer, since the gate contacts are electrically isolated from each other, unlike in the back-gated case. Also, due to the thinness of the gate dielectric, a larger electric field can be generated with respect to the nanotube using a lower gate voltage. These advantages mean top-gated devices are generally preferred over back-gated CNTFETs, despite their more complex fabrication process.

Wrap-around gate CNTFETs

CNT Sheathed.jpg
Sheathed CNT
WraparoundCNTFET.jpg
Gate all-around CNT Device

Wrap-around gate CNTFETs, also known as gate-all-around CNTFETs were developed in 2008, [12] and are a further improvement upon the top-gate device geometry. In this device, instead of gating just the part of the CNT that is closer to the metal gate contact, the entire circumference of the nanotube is gated. This should ideally improve the electrical performance of the CNTFET, reducing leakage current and improving the device on/off ratio.

Device fabrication begins by first wrapping CNTs in a gate dielectric and gate contact via atomic layer deposition. [13] These wrapped nanotubes are then solution-deposited on an insulating substrate, where the wrappings are partially etched off, exposing the ends of the nanotube. The source, drain, and gate contacts are then deposited onto the CNT ends and the metallic outer gate wrapping.

Suspended CNTFETs

A suspended CNTFET device. Wiki6.jpg
A suspended CNTFET device.

Yet another CNTFET device geometry involves suspending the nanotube over a trench to reduce contact with the substrate and gate oxide. [14] This technique has the advantage of reduced scattering at the CNT-substrate interface, improving device performance. [14] [15] [16] There are many methods used to fabricate suspended CNTFETs, ranging from growing them over trenches using catalyst particles, [14] transferring them onto a substrate and then under-etching the dielectric beneath, [16] and transfer-printing onto a trenched substrate. [15]

The main problem suffered by suspended CNTFETs is that they have very limited material options for use as a gate dielectric (generally air or vacuum), and applying a gate bias has the effect of pulling the nanotube closer to the gate, which places an upper limit on how much the nanotube can be gated. This technique will also only work for shorter nanotubes, as longer tubes will flex in the middle and droop towards the gate, possibly touching the metal contact and shorting the device. In general, suspended CNTFETs are not practical for commercial applications, but they can be useful for studying the intrinsic properties of clean nanotubes.

CNTFET material considerations

There are general decisions one must make when considering what materials to use when fabricating a CNTFET. Semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes are preferred over metallic single-walled and metallic multi-walled tubes since they are able to be fully switched off, at least for low source/drain biases. A lot of work has been put into finding a suitable contact material for semiconducting CNTs; the best material to date is Palladium, because its work function closely matches that of nanotubes and it adheres to the CNTs quite well. [17]

I–V characteristics

Field effect mobility of a back-gated CNTFET device with varying channel lengths. SiO2 is used as the gate dielectric. Tool: 'CNT Mobility' at nanoHUB.org Cntfet.gif
Field effect mobility of a back-gated CNTFET device with varying channel lengths. SiO2 is used as the gate dielectric. Tool: 'CNT Mobility' at nanoHUB.org

In CNT–metal contacts, the different work functions of the metal and the CNT result in a Schottky barrier at the source and drain, which are made of metals like silver, titanium, palladium and aluminum. [19] Even though like Schottky barrier diodes, the barriers would have made this FET to transport only one type of carrier, the carrier transport through the metal-CNT interface is dominated by quantum mechanical tunneling through the Schottky barrier. CNTFETs can easily be thinned by the gate field such that tunneling through them results in a substantial current contribution. CNTFETs are ambipolar; either electrons or holes, or both electrons and holes can be injected simultaneously. [19] This makes the thickness of the Schottky barrier a critical factor.

CNTFETs conduct electrons when a positive bias is applied to the gate and holes when a negative bias is applied, and drain current increases with increasing a magnitude of an applied gate voltage. [20] Around Vg = Vds/2, the current gets the minimum due to the same amount of the electron and hole contributions to the current.

Like other FETs, the drain current increases with an increasing drain bias unless the applied gate voltage is below the threshold voltage. For planar CNTFETs with different design parameters, the FET with a shorter channel length produces a higher saturation current, and the saturation drain current also becomes higher for the FET consisting of smaller diameter keeping the length constant. For cylindrical CNTFETs, it is clear that a higher drain current is driven than that of planar CNTFETs since a CNT is surrounded by an oxide layer which is finally surrounded by a metal contact serving as the gate terminal. [21]

Theoretical derivation of drain current

Structure of a top-gate CNT transistor Cntfet.png
Structure of a top-gate CNT transistor

Theoretical investigation on drain current of the top-gate CNT transistor has been done by Kazierski and colleagues. [22] When an electric field is applied to a CNT transistor, a mobile charge is induced in the tube from the source and drain. These charges are from the density of positive velocity states filled by the source NS and that of negative velocity states filled by the drain ND, [22] and these densities are determined by the Fermi-Dirac probability distributions.

and the equilibrium electron density is

.

where the density of states at the channel D(E), USF, and UDF are defined as

The term, is 1 when the value inside the bracket is positive and 0 when negative. VSC is the self-consistent voltage that illustrates that the CNT energy is affected by external terminal voltages and is implicitly related to the device terminal voltages and charges at terminal capacitances by the following nonlinear equation:

where Qt represents the charge stored in terminal capacitances, and the total terminal capacitance CΣ is the sum of the gate, drain, source, and substrate capacitances shown in the figure above. The standard approach to the solution to the self-consistent voltage equation is to use the Newton-Raphson iterative method. According to the CNT ballistic transport theory, the drain current caused by the transport of the nonequilibrium charge across the nanotube can be calculated using the Fermi–Dirac statistics.

Here F0 represents the Fermi–Dirac integral of order 0, k is the Boltzmann’s constant, T is the temperature, and ℏ the reduced Planck’s constant. This equation can be solved easily as long as the self-consistent voltage is known. However the calculation could be time-consuming when it needs to solve the self-consistent voltage with the iterative method, and this is the main drawback of this calculation.

Key advantages

Comparison to MOSFETs

CNTFETs show different characteristics compared to MOSFETs in their performances. In a planar gate structure, the p-CNTFET produces ~1500 A/m of the on-current per unit width at a gate overdrive of 0.6 V while p-MOSFET produces ~500 A/m at the same gate voltage. [23] This on-current advantage comes from the high gate capacitance and improved channel transport. Since an effective gate capacitance per unit width of CNTFET is about double that of p-MOSFET, the compatibility with high- k gate dielectrics becomes a definite advantage for CNTFETs. [21] About twice higher carrier velocity of CNTFETs than MOSFETs comes from the increased mobility and the band structure. CNTFETs, in addition, have about four times higher transconductance.[ citation needed ]

The first sub-10 nanometer CNT transistor was made which outperformed the best competing silicon devices with more than four times the diameter-normalized current density (2.41 mA/μm) at an operating voltage of 0.5 V. The inverse subthreshold slope of the CNTFET was 94 mV/decade. [24]

Heat dissipation

The decrease of the current and burning of the CNT can occur due to the temperature raised by several hundreds of kelvins. Generally, the self-heating effect is much less severe in a semiconducting CNTFET than in a metallic one due to different heat dissipation mechanisms. A small fraction of the heat generated in the CNTFET is dissipated through the channel. The heat is non-uniformly distributed, and the highest values appear at the source and drain sides of the channel. [25] Therefore, the temperature significantly gets lowered near the source and drain regions. For semiconducting CNT, the temperature rise has a relatively small effect on the I-V characteristics compared to silicon.

Disadvantages

Lifetime (degradation)

Carbon nanotubes degrade in a few days when exposed to oxygen. [ citation needed ] There have been several works done on passivating the nanotubes with different polymers and increasing their lifetime.[ citation needed ]

Reliability

Carbon nanotubes have shown reliability issues when operated under high electric field or temperature gradients. Avalanche breakdown occurs in semiconducting CNT and joule breakdown in metallic CNT. Unlike avalanche behavior in silicon, avalanche in CNTs is negligibly temperature-dependent. Applying high voltages beyond avalanche point results in Joule heating and eventual breakdown in CNTs. [26] This reliability issue has been studied, and it is noticed that the multi-channeled structure can improve the reliability of the CNTFET. The multi-channeled CNTFETs can keep a stable performance after several months, while the single-channeled CNTFETs are usually wear out after a few weeks in the ambient atmosphere. [27] The multi-channeled CNTFETs keep operating when some channels break down, this won’t happen in the single-channeled ones.

Difficulties in mass production, production cost

Although CNTs have unique properties such as stiffness, strength, and tenacity compared to other materials especially to silicon, there is currently no technology for their mass production and high production cost. To overcome the fabrication difficulties, several methods have been studied such as direct growth, solution dropping, and various transfer printing techniques. [28]

Future work

The most desirable future work involved in CNTFETs will be the transistor with higher reliability, cheap production cost, or the one with more enhanced performances. For example, such efforts could be made: adding effects external to the inner CNT transistor like the Schottky barrier between the CNT and metal contacts, multiple CNTs at a single gate, [22] channel fringe capacitances, parasitic source/drain resistance, and series resistance due to the scattering effects.

Related Research Articles

MOSFET transistor used for amplifying or switching electronic signals

The metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor is a type of field-effect transistor (FET), most commonly fabricated by the controlled oxidation of silicon. It has an insulated gate, whose voltage determines the conductivity of the device. This ability to change conductivity with the amount of applied voltage can be used for amplifying or switching electronic signals. A metal-insulator-semiconductor field-effect transistor or MISFET is a term almost synonymous with MOSFET. Another synonym is IGFET for insulated-gate field-effect transistor.

JFET type of field-effect transistor

The junction gate field-effect transistor is one of the simple type of field-effect transistor. JFETs are three-terminal semiconductor devices that can be used as electronically-controlled switches, amplifiers, or voltage-controlled resistors.

In solid-state physics, the electron mobility characterises how quickly an electron can move through a metal or semiconductor, when pulled by an electric field. There is an analogous quantity for holes, called hole mobility. The term carrier mobility refers in general to both electron and hole mobility.

In mesoscopic physics, a quantum wire is an electrically conducting wire in which quantum effects influence the transport properties. Usually such effects appear in the dimension of nanometers, so they are also referred to as nanowires.

Threshold voltage Minimum source-to-gate voltage for a field effect transistor to be conducting from source to drain

The threshold voltage, commonly abbreviated as Vth, of a field-effect transistor (FET) is the minimum gate-to-source voltage VGS (th) that is needed to create a conducting path between the source and drain terminals. It is an important scaling factor to maintain power efficiency.

Organic field-effect transistor

An organic field-effect transistor (OFET) is a field-effect transistor using an organic semiconductor in its channel. OFETs can be prepared either by vacuum evaporation of small molecules, by solution-casting of polymers or small molecules, or by mechanical transfer of a peeled single-crystalline organic layer onto a substrate. These devices have been developed to realize low-cost, large-area electronic products and biodegradable electronics. OFETs have been fabricated with various device geometries. The most commonly used device geometry is bottom gate with top drain and source electrodes, because this geometry is similar to the thin-film silicon transistor (TFT) using thermally grown SiO2 as gate dielectric. Organic polymers, such as poly(methyl-methacrylate) (PMMA), can also be used as dielectric.

Coulomb blockade increased resistance at small bias voltages of an electronic device comprising at least one low-capacitance tunnel junction

In mesoscopic physics, a Coulomb blockade (CB), named after Charles-Augustin de Coulomb's electrical force, is the decrease in electrical conductance at small bias voltages of a small electronic device comprising at least one low-capacitance tunnel junction. Because of the CB, the conductance of a device may not be constant at low bias voltages, but disappear for biases under a certain threshold, i.e. no current flows.

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Power MOSFET power MOS field-effect transistor

A power MOSFET is a specific type of metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) designed to handle significant power levels.

In mesoscopic physics, ballistic conduction is the transport of charge carriers in a medium, having negligible electrical resistivity caused by scattering. Without scattering, electrons simply obey Newton's second law of motion at non-relativistic speeds.

Potential applications of carbon nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are cylinders of one or more layers of graphene (lattice). Diameters of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) are typically 0.8 to 2 nm and 5 to 20 nm, respectively, although MWNT diameters can exceed 100 nm. CNT lengths range from less than 100 nm to 0.5 m.

Drain-induced barrier lowering

Drain-induced barrier lowering (DIBL) is a short-channel effect in MOSFETs referring originally to a reduction of threshold voltage of the transistor at higher drain voltages. In a classic planar field-effect transistor with a long channel, the bottleneck in channel formation occurs far enough from the drain contact that it is electrostatically shielded from the drain by the combination of the substrate and gate, and so classically the threshold voltage was independent of drain voltage. In short-channel devices this is no longer true: The drain is close enough to gate the channel, and so a high drain voltage can open the bottleneck and turn on the transistor prematurely.

Organic photovoltaic devices (OPVs) are fabricated from thin films of organic semiconductors, such as polymers and small-molecule compounds, and are typically on the order of 100 nm thick. Because polymer based OPVs can be made using a coating process such as spin coating or inkjet printing, they are an attractive option for inexpensively covering large areas as well as flexible plastic surfaces. A promising low cost alternative to conventional solar cells made of crystalline silicon, there is a large amount of research being dedicated throughout industry and academia towards developing OPVs and increasing their power conversion efficiency.

Within materials science, the optical properties of carbon nanotubes refer specifically to the absorption, photoluminescence (fluorescence), and Raman spectroscopy of carbon nanotubes. Spectroscopic methods offer the possibility of quick and non-destructive characterization of relatively large amounts of carbon nanotubes. There is a strong demand for such characterization from the industrial point of view: numerous parameters of the nanotube synthesis can be changed, intentionally or unintentionally, to alter the nanotube quality. As shown below, optical absorption, photoluminescence and Raman spectroscopies allow quick and reliable characterization of this "nanotube quality" in terms of non-tubular carbon content, structure (chirality) of the produced nanotubes, and structural defects. Those features determine nearly any other property, such as optical, mechanical, and electrical.

Nanofluidic circuitry is a nanotechnology aiming for control of fluids in nanometer scale. Due to the effect of an electrical double layer within the fluid channel, the behavior of nanofluid is observed to be significantly different compared with its microfluidic counterparts. Its typical characteristic dimensions fall within the range of 1–100 nm. At least one dimension of the structure is in nanoscopic scale. Phenomena of fluids in nano-scale structure are discovered to be of different properties in electrochemistry and fluid dynamics.

A device generating linear or rotational motion using carbon nanotube(s) as the primary component, is termed a nanotube nanomotor. Nature already has some of the most efficient and powerful kinds of nanomotors. Some of these natural biological nanomotors have been re-engineered to serve desired purposes. However, such biological nanomotors are designed to work in specific environmental conditions. Laboratory-made nanotube nanomotors on the other hand are significantly more robust and can operate in diverse environments including varied frequency, temperature, mediums and chemical environments. The vast differences in the dominant forces and criteria between macroscale and micro/nanoscale offer new avenues to construct tailor-made nanomotors. The various beneficial properties of carbon nanotubes makes them the most attractive material to base such nanomotors on.

Single-walled carbon nanotubes have the ability to conduct electricity. This conduction can be ballistic, diffusive, or based on scattering. When ballistic in nature conductance can be treated as if the electrons experience no scattering.

Tunnel field-effect transistor

The tunnel field-effect transistor (TFET) is an experimental type of transistor. Even though its structure is very similar to a metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), the fundamental switching mechanism differs, making this device a promising candidate for low power electronics. TFETs switch by modulating quantum tunneling through a barrier instead of modulating thermionic emission over a barrier as in traditional MOSFETs. Because of this, TFETs are not limited by the thermal Maxwell–Boltzmann tail of carriers, which limits MOSFET drain current subthreshold swing to about 60 mV/decade of current at room temperature. The concept was proposed by Chang et al while working at IBM. Joerg Appenzeller and his colleagues at IBM were the first to demonstrate that current swings below the MOSFET’s 60-mV-per-decade limit were possible. In 2004, they reported they had created a tunnel transistor with a carbon nanotube channel and a subthreshold swing of just 40 mV per decade.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can be thought of as rolled up single atomic layer graphite sheet to form a seamless cylinder. Depending on the direction on which they are rolled, CNTs can be semiconducting or metallic. Metallic carbon nanotubes have been identified as a possible interconnect material for the future technology generations and to replace copper (Cu) interconnects. Electron transport can go over long nanotube lengths, 1μm, enabling CNTs to carry very high currents (i.e. up to 109 Acm−2) with essentially no heating due to nearly 1D electronic structure. Despite the current saturation in CNTs at high fields, the mitigation of such effects is possible due to encapsulated nanowires.

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