CNFETs are more energy-efficient than silicon field-effect transistors and could be used to build new types of three-dimensional microprocessors, but until now, they were only produced in small batches at a lab level. In a paper titled “Fabrication of carbon nanotube field-effect transistors in commercial silicon manufacturing facilities” published in Nature Electronics, the researchers describe how such CNFETs could be produced at scale with a few process modifications to standard solution-based methods. Compared to laboratory-made devices, they report a deposition process over three orders of magnitude faster, while simultaneously reducing costs. The CNFETs were created in a commercial silicon manufacturing facility and a semiconductor foundry in the United States.
The authors report the deposition of carbon nanotubes edge to edge on the wafers, with 14,400 by 14,400 arrays CFNETs distributed across multiple wafers.
As silicon transistors no longer scale down in size as fast as Moore’s law accurately predicted for decades, CNFETs are becoming an attractive alternative technology, being about an order of magnitude more energy efficient than their silicon counterparts. What’s more, CNFETs can be manufactured at near-room temperatures, which enables multi-layer circuits to be designed as 3D-chips without affecting the first layers.
The researchers worked with Analog Devices, a commercial silicon manufacturing facility, and SkyWater Technology, a semiconductor foundry, to fabricate CNFETs using an improved incubation method. The next steps, already underway, will be to build different types of integrated circuits out of CNFETs in an industrial setting and explore some of the new functions that a 3D chip could offer.
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