Engineers set record for world's fastest transistor

Tuesday, 22 August, 2006

Engineers at the School of Electronics and Computer Science have developed a method to make bipolar transistors that work twice as fast as current devices.

Bipolar transistors are solid-state semiconductor devices used in mobile phones and various wireless systems.

According to Professor Peter Ashburn, who undertook this research in collaboration with STC Microelectronics, the researchers used a standard silicon bipolar technique with fluorine implants to deliver a 110 GHz device which is twice as fast as the current record.

"By using fluorine implants, the transistor can operate at a higher frequency, which means it will be twice as fast as it was before," Ashburn said.

The fluorine implants are used to suppress boron diffusion in the base of the transistor, which means that the base width is narrower, allowing electrons to travel across it faster.

Ashburn and his team believe that there is scope to reduce the boron diffusion by a further 50% and they are currently monitoring how the fluorine behaves and looking at whether there are other materials that will also enable this diffusion.

"We have just improved the performance of silicon to a level which was only previously possible with silicon geranium," Ashburn noted.

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