The transistor has been evolved by a team of researchers with the Vienna University of Technology. This was achieved by tapping into the Germanium. The team developed a new, adaptive transistor design that can change its configuration according to the workload requirements. This new breakthrough can enable using up to 85% fewer transistors than current approaches. Having fewer transistors operating for the same work, power consumption and temperatures are reduced, which in turn allows for higher frequency scaling and performance of the transistor.
This technology will not only change how the computer chips of the future will be designed, but these new and adaptive transistors will also lead to new possibilities in AI, neural networks and even logic that works with values besides zero and one.
While these adaptive transistors have enormous potential, one of the researchers behind the project, Dr. Masiar Sistani, explained in the journal ACS Nano that they don’t intend to replace existing silicon based transistor technology but rather augment it. “We don’t want to completely replace the well-established silicon based transistor technology with our new transistor, that would be presumptuous. The new technology is more likely to be incorporated into computer chips as an add-on in the future. For certain applications, it will simply be more energy-efficient and convenient to rely on adaptive transistors” said Dr Masiar Sistani while explaning the new technology.
“We connect two electrodes with an extremely thin wire made of germanium, via extremely clean high-quality interfaces, above the germanium segment, we place a gate electrode like the ones found in conventional transistors. What is decisive is that our transistor features a further control electrode placed on the interfaces between germanium and metal. It can dynamically program the function of the transistor” explained Dr Masiar Sistani.
“Arithmetic operations, which previously required 160 transistors, are possible with 24 transistors due to this increased adaptability. In this way, the speed and energy efficiency of the circuits can also be significantly increased,” explained Prof. Walter Weber, another member of the team.
Dr Sistani further explained “This is because germanium has a very special electronic structure: when you apply voltage, the current flow initially increases, as you would expect. After a certain threshold, however, the current flow decreases again – this is called negative differential resistance. With the help of the control electrode, we can modulate at which voltage this threshold lies. This results in new degrees of freedom that we can use to give the transistor exactly the properties that we need at the moment.”