Smarter transistors could be three times more energy-efficient

Together with his research team, Lars-Erik Wernersson, E²SWITCH dissemination manager and professor of nanoelectronics at Lund University in Sweden, has developed a technology for smarter transistors which could be used in electronics that operate on low energy, such as sensors for the Internet of Things. Using the new transistors on a large scale could save enormous amounts of energy.
Transistors are the smallest building blocks in electronics - a kind of switch. When the amount of energy required to switch the transistors on or off is reduced, major savings can be made overall. Transistors with low-energy consumption are expected to be highly significant for applications within the Internet of Things.
With the help of nanotechnology, the material and architecture in the transistors have been optimised so that they consume only a third of the energy required with the current technology when operating at low voltages. They can be used in digital circuits, various sensors and communication.
“We have been able to operate the transistors under what is known as the fundamental thermionic limit, which reduces energy consumption. The next step is to continue to study the physics and to understand the components better, so that they can be further optimised. We also want to find new ways of transferring the technology to industry,” says Lars-Erik Wernersson.
Benefits of III-V  nanowires are the electrostatic control in  the small dimensions and the flexibility in heterostructure design. Challenges include defect control and processing technology.  Combining understanding in heterostructure control with defect reduction methods developed within E²SWITCH, LUND has demonstrated a  TFET where the  critical I60 current level has been  increased more than a factor 100 as compared to state-of-the-art. With drive currents of 10 µA/µm (at 1nA/µm Ioff) it shows promise for IoT applications.