LONDON Researchers from QinetiQ and Intel have built 'quantum well' transistors by integrating a new transistor material, developed by QinetiQ called indium antimonide (InSb). The development comes as part of a two year joint research programme by the companies.
The Indium antimonide transistor technology was first developed as part of a UK Ministry of Defence project. Tim Phillips, business manager of the Fast Transistors group at QinetiQ, said “Although this research is still in the initial phase it still shows huge promise for advanced applications. It is also a great example of how QinetiQ, by working with other world leading companies like Intel, is commercialising many of its technologies.”
InSb is made up of elements found in the III and V columns of the periodic table. Transistors made of this material enable research devices to operate at very low voltages, while still rapidly switching and consuming little power. The research results obtained from the quantum well transistors research showed a 10x lower power consumption for the same performance, or conversely a 3x improvement in transistor performance for the same power consumption, as compared to today's traditional transistors.
Ken David, director of components research for Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group, said, “Indium antimonide is one example of several new materials that Intel will continue to investigate in order to ensure that Moore's Law extends well beyond the next decade.”
The culmination of a two-year collaboration between Intel and QinetiQ on the research and development of III V transistors for high-performance and low power logic applications, the results were obtained on a “depletion mode” InSb NMOS transistor. Such transistors are normally on and can be turned off by applying a negative voltage to the gate which is in contrast to the more common practice of applying a voltage to switch a gate, when required.
QinetiQ is a UK-based science and technology solutions company that was founded In July 2001 from the majority of DERA (Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) the laboratories of the UK MOD. It now covers markets as diverse as defence, security, automotive, information technology, health, aerospace, rail, telecommunications, electronics, space, marine, energy and oil & gas.