A vertical InAs nanowire MOSFET.
Since the introduction of the transistor and the integrated circuit, the semiconductor industry has developed at a remarkable pace. By continuously fabricating smaller and faster transistors, it has been possible to maintain an exponential increase in performance, a phenomenon famously described by Moore’s Law. Today, billions of transistors are integrated on a single chip and the size of a transistor is on the scale of tens of nanometres. Until recently, the improvements in performance and integration density have been mostly driven by scaling down the transistor size. However, as the length scale is rapidly approaching that of only a few atoms, this scaling paradigm may not continue forever. Instead, the research community, as well as the industry, is investigating alternative structures and materials in order to further increase the performance.
One emerging technology for use in future electronic circuits is transistors based on nanowires. The nanowire transistor structure investigated in this work combines a number of key technologies to achieve a higher performance than traditional Si-based transistors. Epitaxially grown nanowires are naturally oriented in the vertical direction, which means that the devices may be fabricated from the bottom and up. This three-dimensional structure allows a higher integration density and enables the gate to completely surround the channel in a gate-all-around configuration. Combined with a high-k dielectric, this results in an excellent electrostatic gate control. Furthermore, nanowires have the unique ability to combine semiconductor materials with significantly different lattice constants. By introducing InAs as a channel material, a much higher electron mobility than for Si is achieved.
In this work, simulations of nanowire-based devices are performed and the ultimate performance is predicted. A nanowire transistor architecture with a realistic footprint is proposed and a roadmap is established for the scaling of the device structure, based on a set of technology nodes. Benchmarking is performed against competing technologies, both from a device and circuit perspective. The physical properties of nanowire transistors, and the corresponding capacitor structure, are investigated by band-structure simulations. Based on these simulations, a ballistic transport model is used to derive the intrinsic transistor characteristics. This is combined with an extensive evaluation and optimization of the parasitic elements in the transistor structure for each technology node.
It is demonstrated that an optimized nanowire transistor has the potential to operate at terahertz frequencies, while maintaining a low power consumption. A high quality factor and extremely high integration density is predicted for the nanowire capacitor structure. It is concluded that InAs nanowire devices show great potential for use in future electronic circuits, both in digital and analogue applications.