According to research reported in the special issue update of Proceedings of the IEEE on Nanoelectronics applications, computer users will be elated to learn that efficient new systems to process information and sustain memory function are on the horizon.
Many of these are new devices and forward-thinking technologies proposed to perform either the processor function or the memory function, and in some instances a universal device to perform both functions. Proceedings of the IEEE is the world’s most highly-cited general-interest journal in electrical engineering and computer science since 1913.
This Nanoelectronics update issue, published by the IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional association, presents 16 research papers reflecting a two-phased approach to bringing about change in both processing information and sustaining memory function. Phase one papers address extending chip functionality beyond what is thought possible today, while phase two explores ways to create a new, multifunctional and scalable platform technology such as an all spin-based logic for both processor and memory tasks. An exciting albeit still controversial aspect of the idea of employing spin-based technology to replace RAM is described in “Spin-transistor Electronics: An Overview and Outlook” by S. Sugahara and J. Nitta, which makes a strong case for using spin instead of charge as a building block for novel integrated circuits that never need refreshing. “Spin devices could also be used to realize non-volatile memory and reconfigurable output characteristics that are very useful and offer suitable functionalities for new integrated circuit architectures that are inaccessible to ordinary transistor circuits,” explains James Hutchby, guest editor for the Nanotechnology Special Issue, as he recently commented on the current status and outlook for spin transistors. In “In Quest of the Next Switch” by T. Theis and P. Solomon, an exploration is presented of options for reducing energy dissipation characteristic of semiconductors. The article also provides important insight into the search to replace the silicon Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor (MOSFET) and Complementary (CMOS) gate as the basic unit logic device. The potential for Graphene to play an important role in processor and memory functions for new “beyond CMOS devices” is also addressed in this issue.
In “Graphene for CMOS and Beyond CMOS Applications” by S.K. Banerjee et al., several unique properties of graphene are summarized including its very high mobility and linear band structure while also demonstrating that the unique properties of graphene can lead to discovery and development of important and new “Beyond CMOS” devices. “While it could be many years before we see any of these graphene applications fully realized, the discovery of graphene and now the potential we see for it and have illustrated in this article offers an unparalleled opportunity for scientists to investigate these possibilities,” says Hutchby.
“The overriding opportunity these research papers offer to the Nanoelectronics research community is a chance to develop a new concept and its enabling technology capable of sustaining information processing (including memory) functional scaling beyond that which is attainable with scaled Complimentary Metal Oxide Semi-conductor (CMOS),” further explains Hutchby. “And this new concept could be based on use of a new ‘token‘(e.g. electronic spin) to replace charge as the means to represent a bit of information.”