Strained silicon

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Strained silicon Microprocessore silicio germano.jpg
Strained silicon

Strained silicon is a layer of silicon in which the silicon atoms are stretched beyond their normal interatomic distance. [1] This can be accomplished by putting the layer of silicon over a substrate of silicon germanium (Si Ge). As the atoms in the silicon layer align with the atoms of the underlying silicon germanium layer (which are arranged a little farther apart, with respect to those of a bulk silicon crystal), the links between the silicon atoms become stretched - thereby leading to strained silicon. Moving these silicon atoms farther apart reduces the atomic forces that interfere with the movement of electrons through the transistors and thus better mobility, resulting in better chip performance and lower energy consumption. These electrons can move 70% faster allowing strained silicon transistors to switch 35% faster.

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.

Atom smallest unit of a chemical element

An atom is the smallest constituent unit of ordinary matter that has the properties of a chemical element. Every solid, liquid, gas, and plasma is composed of neutral or ionized atoms. Atoms are extremely small; typical sizes are around 100 picometers.

Wafer (electronics) thin slice of semiconductor material used in the fabrication of integrated circuits

A wafer, also called a slice or substrate, is a thin slice of semiconductor material, such as a crystalline silicon, used in electronics for the fabrication of integrated circuits and in photovoltaics for conventional, wafer-based solar cells. The wafer serves as the substrate for microelectronic devices built in and over the wafer and undergoes many microfabrication process steps such as doping or ion implantation, etching, deposition of various materials, and photolithographic patterning. Finally, the individual microcircuits are separated (dicing) and packaged.

More recent advances include deposition of strained silicon using metalorganic vapor phase epitaxy (MOVPE) with metalorganics as starting sources, e.g. silicon sources (silane and dichlorosilane) and germanium sources (germane, germanium tetrachloride, and isobutylgermane).

Organometallic chemistry study of chemical compounds containing at least one bond between a carbon atom of an organic compound and a metal

Organometallic chemistry is the study of organometallic compounds, chemical compounds containing at least one chemical bond between a carbon atom of an organic molecule and a metal, including alkaline, alkaline earth, and transition metals, and sometimes broadened to include metalloids like boron, silicon, and tin, as well. Aside from bonds to organyl fragments or molecules, bonds to 'inorganic' carbon, like carbon monoxide, cyanide, or carbide, are generally considered to be organometallic as well. Some related compounds such as transition metal hydrides and metal phosphine complexes are often included in discussions of organometallic compounds, though strictly speaking, they are not necessarily organometallic. The related but distinct term "metalorganic compound" refers to metal-containing compounds lacking direct metal-carbon bonds but which contain organic ligands. Metal β-diketonates, alkoxides, dialkylamides, and metal phosphine complexes are representative members of this class. The field of organometallic chemistry combines aspects of traditional inorganic and organic chemistry.

Silane is an inorganic compound with chemical formula, SiH4, making it a group 14 hydride. It is a colourless, pyrophoric gas with a sharp, repulsive smell, somewhat similar to that of acetic acid. Silane is of practical interest as a precursor to elemental silicon.

More recent methods of inducing strain include doping the source and drain with lattice mismatched atoms such as germanium and carbon. [2] Germanium doping of up to 20% in the P-channel MOSFET source and drain causes uniaxial compressive strain in the channel, increasing hole mobility. Carbon doping as low as 0.25% in the N-channel MOSFET source and drain causes uniaxial tensile strain in the channel, increasing electron mobility. Covering the NMOS transistor with a highly stressed silicon nitride layer is another way to create uniaxial tensile strain. As opposed to wafer-level methods of inducing strain on the channel layer prior to MOSFET fabrication, the aforementioned methods use strain induced during the MOSFET fabrication itself to alter the carrier mobility in the transistor channel.

Lattice constant

The lattice constant, or lattice parameter, refers to the physical dimension of unit cells in a crystal lattice. Lattices in three dimensions generally have three lattice constants, referred to as a, b, and c. However, in the special case of cubic crystal structures, all of the constants are equal and we only refer to a. Similarly, in hexagonal crystal structures, the a and b constants are equal, and we only refer to the a and c constants. A group of lattice constants could be referred to as lattice parameters. However, the full set of lattice parameters consist of the three lattice constants and the three angles between them.

Germanium Chemical element with atomic number 32

Germanium is a chemical element with symbol Ge and atomic number 32. It is a lustrous, hard, grayish-white metalloid in the carbon group, chemically similar to its group neighbors silicon and tin. Pure germanium is a semiconductor with an appearance similar to elemental silicon. Like silicon, germanium naturally reacts and forms complexes with oxygen in nature.

Carbon Chemical element with atomic number 6

Carbon is a chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. It is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Three isotopes occur naturally, 12C and 13C being stable, while 14C is a radionuclide, decaying with a half-life of about 5,730 years. Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity.

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Transistor semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and electrical power

A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals controls the current through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.

Semiconductor devices are electronic components that exploit the electronic properties of semiconductor material, principally silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide, as well as organic semiconductors. Semiconductor devices have replaced thermionic devices in most applications. They use electronic conduction in the solid state as opposed to the gaseous state or thermionic emission in a high vacuum.

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.

Gallium arsenide chemical compound

Gallium arsenide (GaAs) is a compound of the elements gallium and arsenic. It is a III-V direct bandgap semiconductor with a zinc blende crystal structure.

Molecular-beam epitaxy Crystal growth process

Molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE) is an epitaxy method for thin-film deposition of single crystals. The MBE process was developed in the late 1960s at Bell Telephone Laboratories by J. R. Arthur and Alfred Y. Cho. MBE is widely used in the manufacture of semiconductor devices, including transistors, and it is considered one of the fundamental tools for the development of nanotechnologies.

Gallium nitride chemical compound

Gallium nitride (GaN) is a binary III/V direct bandgap semiconductor commonly used in light-emitting diodes since the 1990s. The compound is a very hard material that has a Wurtzite crystal structure. Its wide band gap of 3.4 eV affords it special properties for applications in optoelectronic, high-power and high-frequency devices. For example, GaN is the substrate which makes violet (405 nm) laser diodes possible, without use of nonlinear optical frequency-doubling.

SiGe, or silicon-germanium, is an alloy with any molar ratio of silicon and germanium, i.e. with a molecular formula of the form Si1−xGex. It is commonly used as a semiconductor material in integrated circuits (ICs) for heterojunction bipolar transistors or as a strain-inducing layer for CMOS transistors. IBM introduced the technology into mainstream manufacturing in 1989. This relatively new technology offers opportunities in mixed-signal circuit and analog circuit IC design and manufacture. SiGe is also used as a thermoelectric material for high temperature applications.

High-electron-mobility transistor

A High-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT), also known as heterostructure FET (HFET) or modulation-doped FET (MODFET), is a field-effect transistor incorporating a junction between two materials with different band gaps as the channel instead of a doped region. A commonly used material combination is GaAs with AlGaAs, though there is wide variation, dependent on the application of the device. Devices incorporating more indium generally show better high-frequency performance, while in recent years, gallium nitride HEMTs have attracted attention due to their high-power performance. Like other FETs, HEMTs are used in integrated circuits as digital on-off switches. FETs can also be used as amplifiers for large amounts of current using a small voltage as a control signal. Both of these uses are made possible by the FET’s unique current-voltage characteristics. HEMT transistors are able to operate at higher frequencies than ordinary transistors, up to millimeter wave frequencies, and are used in high-frequency products such as cell phones, satellite television receivers, voltage converters, and radar equipment. They are widely used in satellite receivers, in low power amplifiers and in the defense industry.

In semiconductor production, doping is the intentional introduction of impurities into an intrinsic semiconductor for the purpose of modulating its electrical, optical and structural properties. The doped material is referred to as an extrinsic semiconductor. A semiconductor doped to such high levels that it acts more like a conductor than a semiconductor is referred to as a degenerate semiconductor.

The heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) is a type of bipolar junction transistor (BJT) which uses differing semiconductor materials for the emitter and base regions, creating a heterojunction. The HBT improves on the BJT in that it can handle signals of very high frequencies, up to several hundred GHz. It is commonly used in modern ultrafast circuits, mostly radio-frequency (RF) systems, and in applications requiring a high power efficiency, such as RF power amplifiers in cellular phones. The idea of employing a heterojunction is as old as the conventional BJT, dating back to a patent from 1951. Detailed theory of heterojunction bipolar transistor was developed by Herbert Kroemer in 1957.

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.

Metalorganic vapour-phase epitaxy Method of producing thin fils (polycrystalline and single crystal)

Metalorganic vapour-phase epitaxy (MOVPE), also known as organometallic vapour-phase epitaxy (OMVPE) or metalorganic chemical vapour deposition (MOCVD), is a chemical vapour deposition method used to produce single- or polycrystalline thin films. It is a highly complex process for growing crystalline layers to create complex semiconductor multilayer structures. In contrast to molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE), the growth of crystals is by chemical reaction and not physical deposition. This takes place not in vacuum, but from the gas phase at moderate pressures. As such, this technique is preferred for the formation of devices incorporating thermodynamically metastable alloys, and it has become a major process in the manufacture of optoelectronics. It was invented in 1968 by Harold M. Manasevit.

Hot carrier injection (HCI) is a phenomenon in solid-state electronic devices where an electron or a “hole” gains sufficient kinetic energy to overcome a potential barrier necessary to break an interface state. The term "hot" refers to the effective temperature used to model carrier density, not to the overall temperature of the device. Since the charge carriers can become trapped in the gate dielectric of a MOS transistor, the switching characteristics of the transistor can be permanently changed. Hot-carrier injection is one of the mechanisms that adversely affects the reliability of semiconductors of solid-state devices.

Isobutylgermane chemical compound

Isobutylgermane (IBGe, Chemical formula: (CH3)2CHCH2GeH3), is an organogermanium compound. It is a colourless, volatile liquid that is used in MOVPE (Metalorganic Vapor Phase Epitaxy) as an alternative to germane. IBGe is used in the deposition of Ge films and Ge-containing thin semiconductor films such as SiGe in strained silicon application, and GeSbTe in NAND Flash applications.

Strain engineering refers to a general strategy employed in semiconductor manufacturing to enhance device performance. Performance benefits are achieved by modulating strain in the transistor channel, which enhances electron mobility and thereby conductivity through the channel.

Multigate device

A multigate device or multiple-gate field-effect transistor (MuGFET) refers to a MOSFET that incorporates more than one gate into a single device. The multiple gates may be controlled by a single gate electrode, wherein the multiple gate surfaces act electrically as a single gate, or by independent gate electrodes. A multigate device employing independent gate electrodes is sometimes called a multiple-independent-gate field-effect transistor (MIGFET).

The gate oxide is the dielectric layer that separates the gate terminal of a MOSFET from the underlying source and drain terminals as well as the conductive channel that connects source and drain when the transistor is turned on. Gate oxide is formed by oxidizing the silicon of the channel to form a thin insulating layer of silicon dioxide. A conductive gate material is subsequently deposited over the gate oxide to form the transistor. The gate oxide serves as the dielectric layer so that the gate can sustain as high as 1 to 5 MV/cm transverse electric field in order to strongly modulate the conductance of the channel.

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.

Junctionless nanowire transistor (JNT), developed at Tyndall National Institute in Ireland, is a nanowire-based transistor that has no gate junction. Junctions are difficult to fabricate, and, because they are a significant source of current leakage, they waste significant power and heat. Eliminating them held the promise of cheaper and denser microchips. The JNT uses a simple nanowire of silicon surrounded by an electrically isolated "wedding ring" that acts to gate the flow of electrons through the wire. This method has been described as akin to squeezing a garden hose to gate the flow of water through the hose. The nanowire is heavily n-doped, making it an excellent conductor. Crucially the gate, comprising silicon, is heavily p-doped; and its presence depletes the underlying silicon nanowire thereby preventing carrier flow past the gate.

Germanium-tin is an alloy of the elements germanium and tin, both located in group 14 of the periodic table. It is only thermodynamically stable under a small composition range. Despite this limitation, it has useful properties for band gap and strain engineering of silicon integrated optoelectronic and microelectronic semiconductor devices.


  1. Sun, Y.; Thompson, S. E.; Nishida, T. (2007). "Physics of strain effects in semiconductors and metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors". Journal of Applied Physics. 101 (10): 104503. Bibcode:2007JAP...101j4503S. doi:10.1063/1.2730561. ISSN   0021-8979.
  2. Bedell, S.W.; Khakifirooz, A.; Sadana, D.K. (2014). "Strain scaling for CMOS". MRS Bulletin. 39 (02): 131–137. doi:10.1557/mrs.2014.5. ISSN   0883-7694.