Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Nanoscale vacuum channel transistors fabricated on silicon carbide wafers


Vacuum tubes were central to the early development of electronics, but were replaced, decades ago, by semiconductor transistors. Vacuum channel devices, however, offer inherently faster operation and better noise immunity due to the nature of their channel. They are also stable in harsh environments such as radiation and high temperature. However, to be a plausible alternative to solid-state electronics, nanoscale vacuum channel devices need to be fabricated on the wafer scale using established integrated circuit manufacturing techniques. Here, we show that nanoscale vacuum channel transistors can be fabricated on 150 mm silicon carbide wafers. Our devices have a vertical surround-gate configuration and we show that their drive current scales linearly with the number of emitters on the source pad. The silicon carbide vacuum devices are also compared to identically sized silicon vacuum channel transistors, which reveals that the silicon carbide devices offer superior long-term stability.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Various NVCTs and electron trajectory simulation.
Fig. 2: Images of the fabricated NVCT.
Fig. 3: Energy band diagram and current–voltage characteristics of various NVCTs.
Fig. 4: Reliability characterization of various NVCTs.

Data availability

The data that support the graphs within this Article and further details of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


  1. 1.

    Jo, S. H. et al. Nanoscale memristor device as synapse in neuromorphic systems. Nano Lett. 10, 1297–1301 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Kuzum, D., Yu, S. & Wong, H.-S. P. Synaptic electronics: materials, devices and applications. Nanotechnology 24, 382001 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Nawrocki, R. A., Voyles, R. M. & Shaheen, S. E. A mini review of neuromorphic architectures and implementations. IEEE Trans. Electron Devices 63, 3819–3829 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Shulaker, M. M. et al. Carbon nanotube circuit integration up to sub-20 nm channel lengths. ACS Nano 8, 3434–3443 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Frankkin, A. D. et al. Carbon nanotube complementay wrap-gate transistors. Nano Lett. 13, 2490–2495 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Schwierz, F. Graphene transistors: status, prospects and problems. Proc. IEEE 101, 1567–1584 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Schwierz, F. et al. Two-dimensional materials and their prospects in transistor electronics. Nanoscale 7, 8261–8283 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Su, Y., Chen, P., Lin, C. & Helmy, A. S. Highly sensitive wavelength-scale amorphous hybrid plasmonic detectors. Optica 4, 1259–1262 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Bandyopadhyay, S. & Cahay, M. Reexamination of some spintronic field-effect device concepts. Appl. Phys. Lett. 85, 1433–1435 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Han, J. W., Oh, J. S. & Meyyappan, M. Vacuum nanotransistors: back to the future? Gate insulated nanoscale vacuum transistor. Appl. Phys. Lett. 100, 213505 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Han, J. W., Moon, D. I. & Meyyappan, M. Nanoscale vacuum channel transistor. Nano Lett. 17, 2146–2151 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Srisonphan, S., Jung, Y. S. & Kim, H. K. Metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect-transistor with a vacuum channel. Nat. Nanotechnol. 7, 504–508 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Nirantar, S. et al. Metal–air transitors: semiconductor-free field-emission air-channel nanoelectronics. Nano Lett. 18, 7478–7484 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Stoner, B. R. & Glass, J. T. Nothing is like a vacuum. Nat. Nanotechnol. 7, 485–487 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Kim, J. S., Lee, J. S., Han, J. W. & Meyyappan, M. Single event transient in FinFETs and nanosheet FETs. IEEE Electron Dev. Lett. 39, 1840–1843 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Kim, J. S., Lee, J. S., Han, J. W. & Meyyappan, M. Caution: abnormal variability due to terrestrial cosmic rays in scaled down FinFETs. IEEE. Trans. Electron Devices 66, 1887–1891 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Subramanian, K., Kang, W. P. & Davidson, J. L. Nanocrystalline diamond lateral vacuum microtriodes. Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 203511 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Subramanian, K. et al. Nanodiamond planar lateral field emission diode. Diamond Relat. Mater. 14, 2099–2104 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Kim, J. et al. Work function consideration in vacuum field emission transistor design. J. Vac. Sci. Technol. B 35, 062203 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Liu, M., Li, T. & Wang, Y. SiC emitters for nanoscale vacuum electronics: a systematic study of cathode–anode gap by focused ion beam etching. J. Vac. Sci. Technol. B 35, 031801 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Neudeck, P. G. et al. Demonstration of 4H-SiC digital integrated circuits above 800 °C. IEEE Electron Device Lett. 38, 1082–1085 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Neudeck, P. G. et al. Prolonged silicon carbide integrated circuit operation in Venus surface atmospheric conditions. AIP Adv. 6, 125119 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    De Heer, W. A., Châtelain, A. & Ugate, D. A. Carbon nanotube field-emission electron source. Science 17, 1179–1180 (1995).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Bonard, J.-M. et al. Carbon nanotube films as electron field emitters. Carbon 40, 1715–1728 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Xu, J. et al. Graphene-based nanoscale vacuum channel transistor. Nanoscale Res. Lett. 13, 311 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Miller., J. M. Dependence of the input impedance of a three-electrode vacuum tube upon the load in the plate circuit. Sci. Papers Bureau Standards 15, 367–385 (1920).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Liu, M. et al. Excellent field emission properties of VO2(A) nanogap emitters in air. Appl. Phys. Lett. 112, 093104 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) within the Planetary Science Division (PSD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. The authors thank Q.-V. Nguyen for his support of this work. The authors acknowledge M. Carts and J. Pellish from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for their help with radiation measurements.

Author information




J.-W.H. designed the experiments and performed device fabrication and characterization. M.-L.S. and D.-I.M. assisted with simulations. G.H. and M.M. contributed to the analysis and all authors contributed to manuscript preparation.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jin-Woo Han.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–9.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Han, JW., Seol, ML., Moon, DI. et al. Nanoscale vacuum channel transistors fabricated on silicon carbide wafers. Nat Electron 2, 405–411 (2019).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing