Smallest. Transistor. Ever.

October 10, 2016
By: Brett Israel
Professor Ali Javey and graduate student Sujay Desai
UC Berkeley professor Ali Javey (left) and graduate student Sujay Desai created the smallest transistor to date. Next to them is a vacuum probe station used to measure the electrical characteristics of the 1-nanometer-long transistors. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)

For more than a decade, engineers have been racing to shrink the size of components in integrated circuits. Now, a research team led by a UC Berkeley professor has surpassed a theoretical limit of physics and created the smallest transistor reported to date.

“The gate length is considered a defining dimension of the transistor. We demonstrated a 1-nanometer-gate transistor, showing that with the choice of proper materials, there is a lot more room to shrink our electronics,” said Ali Javey, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  

Transistor gates, which control the flow of electrons, are typically around 5-nanometers in conventional semiconductors. The key to making a smaller gate was to use carbon nanotubes and molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), an engine lubricant commonly sold in auto parts shops.

The findings were published October 7 in the journal Science.

Read the full story in the Berkeley Lab newsroom.