In this chapter, a new type of field-effect transistors is considered with a gate and a channel on a basis of two-dimensional systems of carriers. The key point of the device is that the systems are different. In particular, they are formed in different quantum wells or valleys of the carriers spectrum. Due to this difference, the coherent tunneling is reduced and inelastic tunneling requires additional excitations with significant momentum and energy. This decreases the tunneling rate significantly. For example, the intervalley tunneling rate is less than intravalley that in 9 orders of magnitude in GaAs/AlAs heterostructures. The two-dimensional character also can decrease the tunnel probability in a wide voltage range. Influence of further miniaturization will be discussed for the new types of the transistors.
- field-effect transistor (FET)
- two-dimensional system of carriers
- resonant tunneling
Size‐shrinkage as a main trend of the electronics development has already brought not only cut‐off frequency but also energy consumption increase. In addition, a current leakage of the field‐effect transistor (FET) has also increased. The leakage current consists of a current from the drain to the source (
In this chapter, an application of the 2DSC in a FET gate is considered for further leakage reducing.
2. Resonant tunneling of carriers
Tunneling has been revealed by Esaki  and studied mainly in semiconductor diodes since 1958. Several years before, Shriffer had proposed size‐quantization of the carriers in semiconductor films  that was observed by Tsui in InAs tunneling diode . Then Esaki  and Kazarinov and Suris  proposed carriers resonant tunneling (CRT) in semiconductor heterostructures. In 1974, this effect was observed . On the base CRT, a resonant‐tunneling diode (RTD)  and resonant‐tunneling transistor (RTT)  are realized as highest‐frequency solid‐state devices up to date. Carriers tunneling is well‐known to play a negative role in modern c CMOS transistors made on the base technology of 45 nm or less. However, the instances of the RTD and RTT give us a hope that a proper application of the CRT can improve the situation in the FET. To clarify this, let us consider the CRT in detail.
Usually, the CRT is observed in a double‐barrier heterostructure, the conduction band profile of which is shown in Figure 1. In a thin layer of a narrow band gap semiconductors, the localized states are forming and called subband states or levels. The ground subband state has energy
To calculate current‐voltage characteristics, one can consider model of sequential tunneling . In this model, tunneling of the electron can be described as sequential quantum transition perturbed by tunnel Hamiltonian
Then the matrix element of
where . As one can see from Eqs. (1) and (3), the tunneling electrons save its energy and planar components of the momentum. Since the electron effective mass is equal on both sides of the barrier, the tunneling electron also saves
Let us suppose the emitter grounded, i. e., μfe = const, then the voltage dependence of
where α is a leverage factor, i.e., α =
Eq. (8) is justified when μfe >
As a result, the I‐V curve of the RTD is shown in Figure 3 as solid line. It is worth noting that Eq. (8) describes only resonant part of the current. Nonresonant current usually is monotonic function of the voltage and includes scattering tunneling and tunneling across all barriers. This provides nonzero current at any nonzero voltage. Thus, one can see that two‐dimensional state in the QW produces the resonant tunneling in a finite resonant voltage range from
Thus, the application of 2DSCs could significantly decrease the carriers tunneling in a wide range of the applied voltage. This means there is a new way to decrease carriers tunneling between a gate and a channel that is application 2DSCs in them. Semiconductor heterostructures with two 2DSCs separated by a tunnel barrier have been studied and demonstrated their properties .
3. Resonant tunnel transistors
As can be seen from Figure 3, tunneling current strongly depends on the energy of quantum level in the QW, so if you create a third electrical contact to control this energy, it is possible to obtain a transistor with a large transconductance value, and even with a negative transconductance. Several types of such transistors have been investigated and are shown in Table 1. They differ by base contact making as it is shown in Figure 5.
|Unipolar transistors||Bipolar transistors|
|Base pin contacts to the QW||Unipolar RTT with contact to the QW||Bipolar RTT with QW contact|
|Base pin contacts layer close to the QW||Unipolar RTT on hot‐electrons effect||Light‐emitting RTT|
3.1. Bipolar resonant‐tunneling transistor with QW
In this case, double‐barrier heterostructure is located inside a vertical bipolar transistor in a thin layer being in connection with base contact . One example implementation of such a heterostructure is shown in Figure 6(a) in the form of the band structure. QW layer is considerably doped with impurities of p‐type, which allows change in the potential of QW almost independently of the potentials of the source and drain. Resonant tunneling through the QW starts at finite drain‐source voltage (see Figure 6(b)). Figure 7(a) presents source‐drain characteristics of the transistor at different values of voltage on the base. As one can see from Figure 7(b), the resonant tunneling provides just weak features in the transconductance of the transistor, which appears to be associated with a strong broadening of the levels of dimensional quantization in the QW, due to its disorder induced by doping impurities. The usage of modulated doping could significantly improve the situation, but further research in this direction is not followed. Perhaps because in the transistor the doped layer is placed outside the quantum well and the contact to the layer outside the quantum well.
3.2. Light‐emitting resonant‐tunneling transistor
In the case of a bipolar contact or p‐n junction, the flow of electric current accompanied by the light emission resulted from the electron‐hole recombination. Similar radiation was recorded in a bipolar RTD  and bipolar RTT ; in this sense, the third electrode can be considered as controlling not only current but also radiation. The presence of the region of negative differential conductance (NDC) allows to create not only an oscillator but also an optical pulsar with a clock frequency up to the THz range. One of the options for band structure of these transistors is shown in the insert in Figure 8. In this case, the base layer is doped by donors, but the contact is placed out from the side of the structure. This helped to maintain the quality of the QW between the tunneling barriers that has led to a significant effect of resonant tunneling. As a result, the region of the negative conductance and transconductance was present in all transistor characteristics (see Figure 8(a)).
3.3. Resonant‐tunneling transistor with base contact to two‐dimensional electron system
It is possible to make a deep QW between the tunneling barriers. The QW will be filled by carriers from adjacent layers, if a ground subband has energy
3.4. Resonant‐tunneling transistor on hot electrons
The removal of the base layer outside the quantum well improves the work of RTT, as demonstrated in Refs. [9, 15]. The topology of the transistor and its diagram of the conduction and composition of the layers is shown in Figure 11. In this case, the heavily‐doped disordered base layer does not much influence the quality of the QW and bright NDC features are observed in all electrical characteristics. Figure 12 shows transistor characteristics obtained. The thickness of the base layer is 50 nm (a) and 25 nm (b). From Figure 12, one can see that the wide‐base layer degrades characteristics of NDC and increases the base current, decreasing the width of the layer characteristics improves characteristic and the gain current increases. It is worth noting that at low voltage, the current is very low because the ground subband has energy considerably higher the Fermi energy and only high energy electrons or hot electrons can tunnel.
4. Field‐effect transistors with two‐dimensional systems of carriers
Previously studied resonant‐tunneling transistors have considerable disadvantages such as the tunnel current is very low and high frequency application is possible only in the region of NDC. However, the resonant tunneling can be used in conventional FET to shrink gate‐voltage range where it takes place . As already mentioned in Section 2, the situation can be significantly improved by using a structure with two quantum wells. In this case, the gate 2DCS has a carrier concentration different from the 2DCS concentration in the channel (see Figure 13(a)). To create such transistor, it requires an entire system of gates. The problem is that two conductive layers are in close proximity to each other, which significantly complicates the creation of separate ohmic contacts to each layer. In this case, ohmic contacts to the both layers are made, and then, additional gates (1, 2 in Figure 13(b)) deplete one of the layers. So, gate 1 can be used by applying a negative voltage to the depletion of the upper layer and double gate 2 is used for the depletion of the lower layer. Due to the difference of the energies the resonant tunneling between the layers will be suppressed and the leakage current from the gate to channel will be low. It should be noted that when using this transistor to completely eliminate the resonant tunneling which is impossible as to deplete the channel, one must pass through the resonance voltage
Another possibility of a FET is proposed in Ref.  with a gate and a channel on the basis of 2DSC in different valleys. The key point of the device is that the 2DSCs are different. In particular, they are formed in different valleys of the carrier spectrum (see Figure 14(a)). Due to this difference, the carrier tunneling requires additional excitations with significant momentum and energy. This decreases the tunneling rate significantly. For example, the intervalley tunneling rate is less than intravalley that in 9 orders of magnitude in GaAs/AlAs heterostructures . Application of 2DSCs in the gate and channel in different valleys can significantly decrease the tunnel leakage and allow further cut‐off frequency to increase. Moreover, in the case of low intervalley carriers scattering, the dielectric layer can be removed which increases the transconductance of the FET. Some realization of the conduction band bottom profile can be found in Figure 14(b). The heterostructure is modulation‐doped by Si donors. The AlAs is an indirect semiconductor where X‐valley has lower energy than Г‐one. Hence, in the layer 2, a quantum well (XQW) is formed in the X‐valley that is shown by long‐dashed line in the profile. The XQW can be used as a FET gate. A GaAs quantum well is formed in Г‐valley (ГQW) and can be used as a FET channel. A topology of the FET can be the same as in Figure 13. The source and drain are contacted to the ГQW and the gate is contacted to the XQW (see arrow 3 in Figure 13). The electric characteristics of the proposed FET are still under investigation. However, some discussion about their miniaturization is possible and follows in the next section.
5. Miniaturization of the field‐effect transistors with two quantum wells
5.1. Cut‐off frequency of the FET
As mentioned in Section 1, miniaturization of transistors is the main direction of development of microelectronics for more than 50 years and the reason is not only the attraction of investments or the usability of electronic devices. The main reason for miniaturization is to increase the cut‐off frequency of semiconductor devices. Let us consider how the size reduction leads to an increase in the operating speed of a FET. In Figure 15(a), one can see a typical topology of a FET with metal electrodes. The FET is plugged in the bias circuit through the contacts 1 (source) and 2 (drain). Offset
Then taking into account Eq. (11), one can get the following expression for the cut‐off frequency:
This shows that by increasing the value of
5.2. Size‐quantization and its effect on resonant tunneling
Thus, reducing the size of the active area of the transistors leads to an increase in the cut‐off frequency, which is the main physical reason for the miniaturization. However, as mentioned in Section 1, miniaturization of transistors has led to the increase in the leakage current, which significantly increases energy consumption and reduces the prospects for further development in this direction to zero. The use of resonant tunneling can significantly reduce leakage currents, but it is necessary to use a carrier system with reduced dimensions. These systems which appear in semiconductor nanoheterostructures, recently also actively studied the carbon nanomaterials. Here, there is a new problem with miniaturization. When reduction of
In summarizing, we can state that application of resonant tunneling can significantly increase the operating speed of the FET and reduce leakage currents. However, the application of 2DCS systems imposes new restrictions on the miniaturization, reducing her prospects to almost zero. However, even relatively large RTD already working on the frequencies exceeding the frequencies of the transistors. It is shown that devices based on resonant tunneling are able to replace the conventional FET. The main problem of widespread use of such devices today is a significant high cost of the technology of molecular‐beam epitaxy. Possible further development of technology toward a carbon nanomaterials. Carbon nanomaterials might allow high‐quality RTD, which is significantly cheaper than semiconductor materials. In this case, we should expect serious changes in the architecture of classical computers and the emergence of new solutions in the field of quantum computing.