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Nature. 2006 May 25;441(7092):489-93.

Ge/Si nanowire heterostructures as high-performance field-effect transistors.

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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


Semiconducting carbon nanotubes and nanowires are potential alternatives to planar metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) owing, for example, to their unique electronic structure and reduced carrier scattering caused by one-dimensional quantum confinement effects. Studies have demonstrated long carrier mean free paths at room temperature in both carbon nanotubes and Ge/Si core/shell nanowires. In the case of carbon nanotube FETs, devices have been fabricated that work close to the ballistic limit. Applications of high-performance carbon nanotube FETs have been hindered, however, by difficulties in producing uniform semiconducting nanotubes, a factor not limiting nanowires, which have been prepared with reproducible electronic properties in high yield as required for large-scale integrated systems. Yet whether nanowire field-effect transistors (NWFETs) can indeed outperform their planar counterparts is still unclear. Here we report studies on Ge/Si core/shell nanowire heterostructures configured as FETs using high-kappa dielectrics in a top-gate geometry. The clean one-dimensional hole-gas in the Ge/Si nanowire heterostructures and enhanced gate coupling with high-kappa dielectrics give high-performance FETs values of the scaled transconductance (3.3 mS microm(-1)) and on-current (2.1 mA microm(-1)) that are three to four times greater than state-of-the-art MOSFETs and are the highest obtained on NWFETs. Furthermore, comparison of the intrinsic switching delay, tau = CV/I, which represents a key metric for device applications, shows that the performance of Ge/Si NWFETs is comparable to similar length carbon nanotube FETs and substantially exceeds the length-dependent scaling of planar silicon MOSFETs.

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