Research ArticlePHYSICAL SCIENCE

Quasi-ballistic carbon nanotube array transistors with current density exceeding Si and GaAs

Science Advances  02 Sep 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 9, e1601240
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601240

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Abstract

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are tantalizing candidates for semiconductor electronics because of their exceptional charge transport properties and one-dimensional electrostatics. Ballistic transport approaching the quantum conductance limit of 2G0 = 4e2/h has been achieved in field-effect transistors (FETs) containing one CNT. However, constraints in CNT sorting, processing, alignment, and contacts give rise to nonidealities when CNTs are implemented in densely packed parallel arrays such as those needed for technology, resulting in a conductance per CNT far from 2G0. The consequence has been that, whereas CNTs are ultimately expected to yield FETs that are more conductive than conventional semiconductors, CNTs, instead, have underperformed channel materials, such as Si, by sixfold or more. We report quasi-ballistic CNT array FETs at a density of 47 CNTs μm−1, fabricated through a combination of CNT purification, solution-based assembly, and CNT treatment. The conductance is as high as 0.46 G0 per CNT. In parallel, the conductance of the arrays reaches 1.7 mS μm−1, which is seven times higher than the previous state-of-the-art CNT array FETs made by other methods. The saturated on-state current density is as high as 900 μA μm−1 and is similar to or exceeds that of Si FETs when compared at and equivalent gate oxide thickness and at the same off-state current density. The on-state current density exceeds that of GaAs FETs as well. This breakthrough in CNT array performance is a critical advance toward the exploitation of CNTs in logic, high-speed communications, and other semiconductor electronics technologies.

Keywords
  • Carbon nanotube array
  • current density
  • quasi-ballistic
  • high packing density
  • silicon
  • gallium arsenide
  • field-effect transistor
  • logic

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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