Germanium outperforms silicon in transistors

A germanium-based transistor that can be programmed between electron and hole conduction has been demonstrated by a team of scientists from the Nanoelectronic Materials Laboratory and the Centre for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfaed) at the Dresden University of Technology.

“For the first time, the results demonstrate the combination of low operation voltages with reduced off-state leakage,” said Dr Weber from the cfaed. “The results are a key enabler for novel energy efficient circuits.”

Transistors based on germanium can be operated at low supply voltages and reduced power consumption, due to their low band gap compared to silicon. In addition, the transistors can be reconfigured between electron and hole conduction based on the voltage applied to one of the gate electrodes. This is said to enable circuits with lower transistor count compared to CMOS technologies.

One of the limitations in using germanium and indium-arsenide is the higher static power loss in the transistor´s off-state, which originates from its small band gaps. The germanium-nanowire transistor’s independent gating regions solve this issue.