DailyTech reports researchers at Purdue University have created a new type of 20nm transistor that employs a Christmas tree shaped design. The indium-gallium-arsenide (IGA) based transistor has three layers, a "4D" design that promises more current and much faster operation for high-speed computing. Discoveries like these may be crucial for the development of computer chip smaller than 14nm.
The new work was published in a pair of papers [PDF] to be presented at the International Electron Devices Meeting on Dec. 8-12 in San Francisco.
Currently the silicon chipmaking industry is in an uncertain state. 14 nm chips are expected for 2015, while researchers hope to shrink to 10 nm by 2018. But past 14 nm, leakage in current "high K" dielectrics will become to severe for the transistor to operate; hence to stay on course for 2018 researchers must race to discover new dielectrics.
Squeezing past 10 nm will be even trickier, as it's pushing the boundaries of the already strained optical lithography techniques. Advanced techniques like self-assembly or mechanical manipulation of atoms may prove crucial at features sizes below 10 nm.