Wireless device technology operating in the millimetre-wave regime (30 to 300 GHz) increasingly needs to offer both high performance and a high level of integration with complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) technology. Aligned carbon nanotubes are proposed as an alternative to III–V technologies in such applications because of their highly linear signal amplification and compatibility with CMOS. Here we report the wafer-scalable fabrication of aligned carbon nanotube field-effect transistors operating at gigahertz frequencies. The devices have gate lengths of 110 nm and are capable, in distinct devices, of an extrinsic cutoff frequency and maximum frequency of oscillation of over 100 GHz, which surpasses the 90 GHz cutoff frequency of radio-frequency CMOS devices with gate lengths of 100 nm and is close to the performance of GaAs technology. Our devices also offer good linearity, with distinct devices capable of a peak output third-order intercept point of 26.5 dB when normalized to the 1 dB compression power, and 10.4 dB when normalized to d.c. power.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Bozanic, M. & Sinha, S. Systems-Level Packaging for Millimeter-Wave Transceivers (Springer, 2019).
Bozanic, M. & Sinha, S. Millimeter Wave Low Noise Amplifiers (Springer, 2018).
Niknejad, A. M. & Hashemi, H. mm-Wave Silicon Technology: 60GHz and Beyond (Springer, 2008).
Shulaker, M. M. et al. Three-dimensional integration of nanotechnologies for computing and data storage on a single chip. Nature 547, 74 (2017).
Javey, A., Guo, J., Wang, Q., Lundstrom, M. & Dai, H. J. Ballistic carbon nanotube field-effect transistors. Nature 424, 654–657 (2003).
Choi, S. J. et al. Short-channel transistors constructed with solution-processed carbon nanotubes. ACS Nano 7, 798–803 (2013).
Ding, L. et al. Self-aligned U-gate carbon nanotube field-effect transistor with extremely small parasitic capacitance and drain-induced barrier lowering. ACS Nano 5, 2512–2519 (2011).
Franklin, A. D. & Chen, Z. H. Length scaling of carbon nanotube transistors. Nat. Nanotechnol. 5, 858–862 (2010).
Javey, A. et al. Self-aligned ballistic molecular transistors and electrically parallel nanotube arrays. Nano Lett. 4, 1319–1322 (2004).
Mothes, S., Claus, M. & Schroter, M. Toward linearity in Schottky barrier CNTFETs. IEEE Trans. Nanotechnol. 14, 372–378 (2015).
Baumgardner, J. E. et al. Inherent linearity in carbon nanotube field-effect transistors. Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 052107 (2007).
Maas, S. Linearity and dynamic range of carbon nanotube field-effect transistors. In 2017 IEEE MTT-S Int. Microwave Symposium (IMS) 87–90 (IEEE, 2017).
Mistry, K. S., Larsen, B. A. & Blackburn, J. L. High-yield dispersions of large-diameter semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes with tunable narrow chirality distributions. ACS Nano 7, 2231–2239 (2013).
Brady, G. J., Jinkins, K. R. & Arnold, M. S. Channel length scaling behavior in transistors based on individual versus dense arrays of carbon nanotubes. J. Appl. Phys. 122, 124506 (2017).
Cao, Y. et al. Radio frequency transistors using aligned semiconducting carbon nanotubes with current-gain cutoff frequency and maximum oscillation frequency simultaneously greater than 70 GHz. ACS Nano 10, 6782–6790 (2016).
Joo, Y., Brady, G. J., Arnold, M. S. & Gopalan, P. Dose-controlled, floating evaporative self-assembly and alignment of semiconducting carbon nanotubes from organic solvents. Langmuir 30, 3460–3466 (2014).
Brady, G. J., Joo, Y., Singha Roy, S., Gopalan, P. & Arnold, M. S. High performance transistors via aligned polyfluorene-sorted carbon nanotubes. Appl Phys. Lett. 104, 083107 (2014).
Bessemoulin, A., Tarazi, L., McCulloch, M. G. & Mahon, S. L. 0.1-μm GaAs PHEMT W-band low noise amplifier MMIC using coplanar waveguide technology. In 2014 1st Australian Microwave Symposium (AMS) 1–2 (IEEE, 2014).
Qiu, C. et al. Scaling carbon nanotube complementary transistors to 5-nm gate lengths. Science 355, 271–276 (2017).
Srimani, T. et al. Asymmetric gating for reducing leakage current in carbon nanotube field-effect transistors. Appl Phys. Lett. 115, 063107 (2019).
Brady, G. J. et al. Quasi-ballistic carbon nanotube array transistors with current density exceeding Si and GaAs. Sci. Adv. 2, e1601240 (2016).
Marsh, P. et al. Carbon nanotube-based GHz RF amplifier and semiconductors—a new solution to the linearity and power conundrum. Microw. J. 62, 22–32 (2019).
Soorapanth, T. & Lee, T. H. RF linearity of short-channel MOSFETs. In Proc. First Int. Workshop on Design of Mixed-Mode Integrated Circuits and Applications, 81–84 (1997).
Chang, C. S., Chao, C. P., Chern, J. G. J. & Sun, J. Y. C. Advanced CMOS technology portfolio for RF IC applications. IEEE Trans. Electron Dev. 52, 1324–1334 (2005).
Pitner, G. et al. Low-temperature side contact to carbon nanotube transistors: resistance distributions down to 10 nm contact length. Nano Lett. 19, 1083–1089 (2019).
Franklin, A. D., Farmer, D. B. & Haensch, W. Defining and overcoming the contact resistance challenge in scaled carbon nanotube transistors. ACS Nano 8, 7333–7339 (2014).
Park, R. S. et al. Hysteresis-free carbon nanotube field-effect transistors. ACS Nano 11, 4785–4791 (2017).
Jie, D. & Wong, H. S. P. Modeling and analysis of planar-gate electrostatic capacitance of 1-D FET with multiple cylindrical conducting channels. IEEE Trans. Electron Dev. 54, 2377–2385 (2007).
Jinkins, K. R. et al. Nanotube alignment mechanism in floating evaporative self-assembly. Langmuir 33, 13407–13414 (2017).
Cao, Y., Che, Y., Gui, H., Cao, X. & Zhou, C. Radio frequency transistors based on ultra-high purity semiconducting carbon nanotubes with superior extrinsic maximum oscillation frequency. Nano Res. 9, 363–371 (2015).
Che, Y. C., Lin, Y. C., Kim, P. & Zhou, C. W. T-gate aligned nanotube radio frequency transistors and circuits with superior performance. ACS Nano 7, 4343–4350 (2013).
Wang, C. et al. Radio frequency and linearity performance of transistors using high-purity semiconducting carbon nanotubes. ACS Nano 5, 4169–4176 (2011).
Che, Y. C. et al. Self-aligned T-gate high-purity semiconducting carbon nanotube RF transistors operated in quasi-ballistic transport and quantum capacitance regime. ACS Nano 6, 6936–6943 (2012).
Cao, Y. et al. High-performance radio frequency transistors based on diameter-separated semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Appl. Phys. Lett. 108, 233105 (2016).
Wei, W. et al. High frequency and noise performance of GFETs. In 2017 Int. Conference on Noise and Fluctuations (IEEE, 2017).
Ayas, S. et al. Exploiting native Al2O3 for multispectral aluminum plasmonics. ACS Photonics 1, 1313–1321 (2014).
Kocabas, C. et al. Radio frequency analog electronics based on carbon nanotube transistors. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 1405–1409 (2008).
Kocabas, C. et al. High-frequency performance of submicrometer transistors that use aligned arrays of single-walled carbon nanotubes. Nano Lett. 9, 1937–1943 (2009).
Wang, Z. X. et al. Scalable fabrication of ambipolar transistors and radio-frequency circuits using aligned carbon nanotube arrays. Adv. Mater. 26, 645–652 (2014).
Le Louarn, A. et al. Intrinsic current gain cutoff frequency of 30 GHz with carbon nanotube transistors. Appl. Phys. Lett. 90, 233108 (2007).
Steiner, M. et al. High-frequency performance of scaled carbon nanotube array field-effect transistors. Appl. Phys. Lett. 101, 053123 (2012).
Farmer, D. B., Valdes-Garcia, A., Dimitrakopoulos, C. & Avouris, P. Impact of gate resistance in graphene radio frequency transistors. Appl. Phys. Lett. 101, 143503 (2012).
Han, S. J., Garcia, A. V., Oida, S., Jenkins, K. A. & Haensch, W. Graphene radio frequency receiver integrated circuit. Nat. Commun. 5, 3086 (2014).
Yu, C. et al. Improvement of the frequency characteristics of graphene field-effect transistors on SiC substrate. IEEE Electron Device Lett. 38, 1339–1342 (2017).
Reiha, M. T. & Long, J. R. A 1.2 V reactive-feedback 3.1-10.6 GHz low-noise amplifier in 0.13 μm CMOS. IEEE J. Solid-State Circ. 42, 1023–1033 (2007).
Linten, D. et al. A 5-GHz fully integrated ESD-protected low-noise amplifier in 90-nm RF CMOS. IEEE J. Solid-State Circ. 40, 1434–1442 (2005).
This work was supported by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and The Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA). Additional support was provided by the US Army STTR contract No. W911NF19P002. We also thank J. Blackburn for fruitful discussions and Qorvo, Inc. for providing a GaN FET device for validation testing.
The authors declare the following competing financial interest: C.R., A.A.K., P.F.M., T.A.C. and K.G. are employees of Carbonics Inc., a startup company focused on commercializing CNT transistors for microwave and millimetre-wave applications. C.Z. is a co-founder and shareholder of Carbonics Inc.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Rutherglen, C., Kane, A.A., Marsh, P.F. et al. Wafer-scalable, aligned carbon nanotube transistors operating at frequencies of over 100 GHz. Nat Electron 2, 530–539 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41928-019-0326-y
Nature Electronics (2021)
Air-stable n-type transistors based on assembled aligned carbon nanotube arrays and their application in complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor electronics
Nano Research (2021)
Efficient charge carrier control on single walled carbon nanotube thin film transistors using water soluble polymer coatings
Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics (2021)
Journal of Computational Electronics (2021)
Nano Research (2021)