Photo: Schematic of a transistor with a molybdenum disulfide channel and 1-nm carbon nanotube gate. Image credit: Sujay Desai / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The Guinness World Records world record for the Smallest transistor was set by a team from the UNSW Centre for Quantum Computer Technology (Australia) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA), which announced their creation of an experimental transistor consisting of a quantum dot within a crystal of silicon. Measuring just 4 nm across, the transistor is made from 7 atoms of phosphorus and is around 10 times smaller than the smallest version used in commercial applications.
Guinness World Records also recognized the world record for the Fastest transistor, set by Northrop Grumman (US), a company specialised in in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services, which announced they had created a transistor with an operating frequency of over 1,000 gigahertz.
“The semiconductor industry has long assumed that any gate below 5 nm wouldn’t work, so anything below that was not even considered,” said Sujay Desai, the lead author on the study and a graduate student in Prof. Javey’s lab.
“We made the smallest transistor reported to date,” Prof. Javey said.
“The gate length is considered a defining dimension of the transistor. We demonstrated a 1-nm-gate transistor, showing that with the choice of proper materials, there is a lot more room to shrink our electronics,” he added.
“By changing the material from silicon to molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), we can make a transistor with a gate that is just 1 nm in length, and operate it like a switch.”
Molybdenum disulfide can also be scaled down to atomically thin sheets, about 0.65 nm thick, with a lower dielectric constant, a measure reflecting the ability of a material to store energy in an electric field.
Making a 1-nm structure, it turns out, is no small feat. Conventional lithography techniques don’t work well at that scale, so the team turned to carbon nanotubes, hollow cylindrical tubes with diameters as small as 1 nm.