Promising New Discovery of Non-Silicon Computer Transistor Replacement


Promising New Discovery of Non-Silicon Computer Transistor Replacement

Massachusetts: MIT researchers discovered that alloys called InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide) could potentially make transistors smaller and more energy efficient.

Previously, researchers thought that InGaAs transistor performance deteriorated on a small scale. But the new study shows that this apparent damage is not an intrinsic property of the material itself.

These discoveries, one day, could help drive computational power and efficiency beyond what silicon is possible to do.

We are very pleased. We hope that these results will encourage the community to continue exploring the use of InGaAs as a transistor channel material - said Xiaowei Cai, lead investigator of the study.


Transistors are the building blocks of computers. Their role as switches, to either stop the electric current or let it flow, has led to a surprising series of calculations - from simulating global climate to playing videos of cats on Youtube.

One laptop can contain billions of transistors. For computing power to increase in the future, as it has for decades, electrical engineers will have to develop smaller, denser transistors.

So far, silicon has been the semiconductor material of choice for transistors. But InGaAs has shown clues to being a potential competitor.

Electrons can pass through InGaAs easily, even at low voltages. The material is "known to have great (electron) transport properties", said Cai, as quoted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Saturday (December 12, 2020) .

InGaAs transistors can process signals quickly, potentially resulting in faster calculations. In addition, InGaAs transistors can operate at relatively low voltages, which means they can improve the energy efficiency of the computer.


The research team also found that InGaAs' small-scale performance problems were partly due to oxide traps. This phenomenon causes electrons to jam while trying to flow through the transistor.

Transistors are supposed to function as switches. You want to be able to run a lot of voltage and have a lot of current, But if you have trapped electrons, what happens is you turn on the voltage, but you only have a very limited amount of current in the line. So the transferability is much lower when you're in the oxide trap. - Cai. 

At low frequencies, the performance of the nano-scale InGaAs transistors appears to decrease. But at frequencies of 1 gigahertz or more, they work fine - oxide traps are no longer a barrier.

"When we operated this device at a very high frequency, we saw that it performed very well,"

"They compete with silicon technology."

By the way, you can scroll down below to find other interesting articles.

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