Most built-in circuits (ICs) and digital elements developed so far are primarily based on silicon metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) expertise. As silicon (Si) is thought to have a slender bandgap, nonetheless, in recent times engineers have been making an attempt to develop ICs utilizing different supplies with a wider bandgap, akin to gallium nitrite (GaN).
ICs manufactured from GaN might have notable benefits over standard ICs primarily based on silicon, notably for the event of energy electronics, radiofrequency energy amplifiers and gadgets designed to function in harsh environments. However, to this point creating GaN CMOS logic circuits has proved to be extremely difficult, because of the intrinsically low mobility of holes within the materials and the dearth of an acceptable technique for integrating n-channel and p-channel field-effect transistors (n-FETs and p-FETs) on a single substrate.
Researchers on the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have not too long ago realized a sequence of GaN-based complementary logic ICs. Their paper, printed in Nature Electronics, might have necessary implications for the event of latest sorts of electronics.
“Our work on GaN complementary logic integrated circuits (ICs) was carried out on a GaN-on-Si power HEMT (high-electron-mobility transistor) platform that currently dominates the mainstream commercial GaN power electronics device technology,” Prof. Kevin J. Chen, who led this research, advised Tech Xplore. “This is a planar technology that is particularly suitable for the high-density integration of multi-functional blocks.”
To be environment friendly and full, an influence conversion system requires each core energy switching gadgets, akin to energy transistors and rectifiers, and peripheral circuits that allow their driving, sensing, protecting and management functionalities. Therefore, to unlock the complete potential of GaN energy HEMTs, enabling their high-frequency operation and the conclusion of smaller, extra compact energy programs, it might be preferable for energy switching gadgets and peripheral circuits to be seamlessly built-in on a single chip.
“Current GaN HEMTs are all n-FETs with electrons as the carriers, thus all the peripheral circuits are also based on n-FETs,” Dr. Zheyang Zheng, one of many researchers who carried out the research, defined. “However, logic gates (which are a major constituent in the peripheral circuits) solely based on n-FETs, are much less energy-efficient than the well-known CMOS (complementary MOS) logic architecture that features complementary n-FETs and p-FETs.”
The essential goal of the current research was to develop GaN complementary or CMOS-like logic ICs which can be appropriate with current GaN energy HEMT platforms. Due to their benefits and broad bandgap, these ICs may gain advantage a variety of technological functions, notably these which can be restricted by the narrower bandgap of Si-based ICs.
“We demonstrate a suitable strategy to monolithically integrate GaN n-FETs and p-FETs and manifests the feasibility of constructing GaN-based complementary logic integrated circuits,” Zheng mentioned. “Logic gates based on complementary n-FETs and p-FETs (i.e., the complementary logic gates) are the most energy efficient architectures for implementing digital logic circuits, as the use of complementary n-FETs and p-FETs results in substantially suppressed static power dissipation at both logic states (i.e., logic “1” and “0”), rail-to-rail input and output capability, well-placed logic transition threshold, and large noise margins.”
Using their fabrication technique, Zheng and his colleagues demonstrated a full household of elementary logic gates, together with NOT (inverter), NAND, NOR and transmission gates. In addition, as advanced ICs require logic circuits that includes a number of stage logic gates, the crew additionally demonstrated multi-stage digital ICs, akin to a latch cell and ring oscillators, that may function each at room temperature and at greater temperatures.
“Our study unambiguously manifests the feasibility of implementing GaN-based complementary logic circuits by demonstrating both a complete set of elementary logic gates and two multistage circuits,” Chen mentioned. “Our findings imply that all GaN-based complementary logic circuits are technically within reach. Firstly, all building blocks are available. Secondly, they can be integrated together for more complex entities.”
To develop their GaN-based complementary circuits, the researchers used a business p-GaN gate energy HEMT platform. The use of this business platform permits the mixing of the complementary circuits they developed with current energy gadgets. As a part of their research, the crew additionally demonstrated the feasibility of this integration.
“As a first-generation demonstration with relatively large critical device dimension, our circuits can already work at sub-megahertz frequencies,” Zheng mentioned. “It could be foreseen that moderate device downscaling and further improvement of the fabrication process would push the operating frequency to tens of megahertz, which would comfortably satisfy the requirements of currently used GaN-based power systems.”
The ICs that this crew of researchers offered of their current paper are primarily based on a GaN p-channel FET expertise they labored on for the previous two years. Using a brand new oxygen plasma therapy method, Zheng and his colleagues have been capable of concurrently attain p-FET traits fascinating for CMOS expertise, together with an enhancement-mode operation, low gate leakage, respectable present density, and a excessive ON/OFF present ratio.
In the longer term, the ICs they created might help the event of a variety of technological gadgets, together with instruments for energy conversion, oil well-logging, jet engine management and space exploration. Meanwhile, the researchers plan to research methods during which they might improve their ICs additional.
“We are going to work on down-scaling the devices, especially the p-channel transistors, for higher operating speed and lower power consumption,” Zheng added. “As these circuits are made on a commercial GaN-on-Si platform for manufacturing GaN power HEMTs, we would seek collaboration with the industry to deploy GaN complementary logic circuits in the peripheral circuits and integrate with the power HEMT for constructing more energy-efficient power conversion systems.”
Gallium nitride-based complementary logic built-in circuits. Nature Electronics(2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41928-021-00611-y.
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Researchers notice gallium nitride-based complementary logic built-in circuits (2021, September 6)
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