Infoscience

Thesis

Polarity Control at Runtime: from Circuit Concept to Device Fabrication

Semiconductor device research for digital circuit design is currently facing increasing challenges to enhance miniaturization and performance. A huge economic push and the interest in novel applications are stimulating the development of new pathways to overcome physical limitations affecting conventional CMOS technology. Here, we propose a novel Schottky barrier device concept based on electrostatic polarity control. Specifically, this device can behave as p- or n-type by simply changing an electric input bias. This device combines More-than-Moore and Beyond CMOS elements to create an efficient technology with a viable path to Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI). This thesis proposes a device/circuit/architecture co-optimization methodology, where aspects of device technology to logic circuit and system design are considered. At device level, a full CMOS compatible fabrication process is presented. In particular, devices are demonstrated using vertically stacked, top-down fabricated silicon nanowires with gate-all-around electrode geometry. Source and drain contacts are implemented using nickel silicide to provide quasi-symmetric conduction of either electrons or holes, depending on the mode of operation. Electrical measurements confirm excellent performance, showing Ion/Ioff > 10^7 and subthreshold slopes approaching the thermal limit, SS   60mV/dec (  63mV/dec) for n(p)-type operation in the same physical device. Moreover, the shown devices behave as p-type for a polarization bias (polarity gate voltage, Vpg) of 0V, and n-type for a Vpg = 1V, confirming their compatibility with multi-level static logic circuit design. At logic gate level, two- and four-transistor logic gates are fabricated and tested. In particular, the first fully functional, two-transistor XOR logic gate is demonstrated through electrical characterization, confirming that polarity control can enable more compact logic gate design with respect to conventional CMOS. Furthermore, we show for the first time fabricated four- transistors logic gates that can be reconfigured as NAND or XOR only depending on their external connectivity. In this case, logic gates with full swing output range are experimentally demonstrated. Finally, single device and mixed-mode TCAD simulation results show that lower Vth and more optimized polarization ranges can be expected in scaled devices implementing strain or high-k technologies. At circuit and system level, a full semi-custom logic circuit design tool flow was defined and configured. Using this flow, novel logic libraries based on standard cells or regular gate fabrics were compared with standard CMOS. In this respect, results were shown in comparison to CMOS, including a 40% normalized area-delay product reduction for the analyzed standard cell libraries, and improvements of over 2× in terms of normalized delay for regular Controlled Polarity (CP)-based cells in the context of Structured ASICs. These results, in turn, confirm the interest in further developing and optimizing CP devices, as promising candidates for future digital circuit technology.

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