Engineers develop dual-function transistors

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Purdue University engineers have developed transistors that can process and store information on one device.

The research team accomplished this through combining a transistor with higher-performing memory technology than is used in most computers, called ferroelectric RAM.

Researchers trying to integrate the two have previously encountered issues at the interface between the ferroelectric material and silicon. Ferroelectric RAM instead operates as a separate unit on-chip.

"We used a semiconductor that has ferroelectric properties. This way two materials become one material, and you don't have to worry about the interface issues," said Peide Ye, who led the research.

The result is a so-called ferroelectric semiconductor field-effect transistor, built in the same way as transistors currently used on computer chips.

The material, alpha indium selenide, not only has ferroelectric properties, but also addresses the issue of a conventional ferroelectric material usually acting as an insulator rather than a semiconductor due to a so-called wide 'band gap' which means that electricity cannot pass through and no computing happens.

This research was performed in the Purdue Discovery Park Birck Nanotechnology Center and supported by the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Semiconductor Research Corporation, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Office of Naval Research.