UK claims new silicon speed record
British scientists are claiming a new world record for the fastest silicon chip on record. By adding fluorine to a simple silicon bipolar transistor, commonly used in mobile phones and other wireless systems, researchers at the University of Southampton claim to have made the transistor run at up to 110GHz.
The research team came up with a simple tweak to the chemistry of the standard silicon chip which allows it to perform many times faster. As the technique is simply an extension of existing transistor manufacturing techniques, it should be possible to exploit the discovery commercially so that devices could run at up to 11GHz.
Professor Ashburn at the University of Southampton and partners at STC Microelectronics used a simple transistor made of silicon with boron filling for the research.
To make transistors of this type requires high temperature manufacturing processes which cause the boron layer to spread out, creating a thicker and ultimately slower layer.
To get round this problem, the researchers added fluorine implants to the silicon using a technique called ion implantation. This involves firing atoms of an element – fluorine in this instance – at a target of silicon.
The fluorine creates vacant areas where there would normally be a silicon atom that act as a brake on boron diffusion in the base of the transistor. As a result the base width is narrower, allowing the electrons to move across it at greater speeds
The previous world record was held by the Dutch electronics giant Philips, which developed a device which could run at up to 70GHz.
The full research paper can be found at the University of Southampton.