The HEMT - a type of field-effect transistor that amplifies and controls electrical current - was created using gallium nitride (GaN) with indium aluminum-nitride as the barrier on a silicon substrate. Their device, say the researchers, has record-setting properties, including record low gate leakage current, a record high on/off current ratio (the magnitude of the difference of current transmitted between the on state and off state), and a record high current gain cutoff frequency (an indication of how much data can be transmitted with a wide range of frequencies).
For a given current, the device can handle more voltage and would require less battery life than other devices of its type.
“We are making this high-speed transistor because we want to expand the bandwidth of wireless communications, and this will give us more information for a certain limited time,” says Yuping Zeng, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Delaware. “It can also be used for space applications because the gallium nitride transistor we used is radiation robust, and it is also wide bandgap material, so it can tolerate a lot of power.”
The transistor, say the researchers, represents innovation in both material design and device application design. The transistors are made on a low-cost silicon substrate, a process that can also be compatible with conventional silicon complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) technology used for semiconductors.
Looking ahead, the researchers plan to create more devices with even better performance for low-power and high-speed applications. They say they also plan to use their transistors to make power amplifiers that could be particularly useful for wireless communications as well as other IoT applications.
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