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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.

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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.

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


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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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Jin-Woo Han.

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Supplementary Figs. 1–9.

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

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