Researchers from China have reported success developing 3nm transistors – about the width of a human DNA strand – that show promise for practical use in chips according to work recently reported in the IEEE Electron Device Letters.
Yin Huaxiang, one of the researchers involved in the work and deputy director of microelectronics device and integrated technology at the Institute of Microelectronics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, reported one of the key obstacles overcome was the so-called Boltzmann Tyranny – a problem involving the distribution of electrons in a space.
A brief account of the work is also presented in the South China Morning Post. Yin’s team, using a method known as negative capacitance, was able to power transistors by using half the theoretical minimum amount of electricity required.
“This is the most exciting part of our work. It is not just another new finding in a laboratory. It has a high potential for real, serious applications, and we have the patent” said Huaxiang in the SCMP article. Commercialization could take a few years as the team worked on materials and quality control, according to the researcher.
Others are also working on 3nm chip technology including Samsung which according to the article planned to complete the development of a 3nm transistor by the first half of next year. Compared to 7-nm technology, Samsung said a processor built with its 3-nm transistors would use half as much power to achieve a 35 per cent higher performance.
The breakthrough would put China into a “head-on competition with the world’s top players at the very front line of chip development,” Huaxiang said.
Link to IEEE paper: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8604024/authors#authors
Link to South China Morning Post article: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3011697/small-wonders-chinese-scientists-develop-transistors-about-width