A review of selected topics in physics based modeling for tunnel field-effect transistors

The research field on tunnel-FETs (TFETs) has been rapidly developing in the last ten years, driven by the quest for a new electronic switch operating at a supply voltage well below 1 V and thus delivering substantial improvements in the energy efficiency of integrated circuits. This paper reviews several aspects related to physics based modeling in TFETs, and shows how the description of these transistors implies a remarkable innovation and poses new challenges compared to conventional MOSFETs. A hierarchy of numerical models exist for TFETs covering a wide range of predictive capabilities and computational complexities. We start by reviewing seminal contributions on direct and indirect band-to-band tunneling (BTBT) modeling in semiconductors, from which most TCAD models have been actually derived. Then we move to the features and limitations of TCAD models themselves and to the discussion of what we define non-self-consistent quantum models, where BTBT is computed with rigorous quantum-mechanical models starting from frozen potential profiles and closed-boundary Schrodinger equation problems. We will then address models that solve the open-boundary Schrodinger equation problem, based either on the non-equilibrium Green's function NEGF or on the quantum-transmitting-boundary formalism, and show how the computational burden of these models may vary in a wide range depending on the Hamiltonian employed in the calculations. A specific section is devoted to TFETs based on 2D crystals and van der Waals hetero-structures. The main goal of this paper is to provide the reader with an introduction to the most important physics based models for TFETs, and with a possible guidance to the wide and rapidly developing literature in this exciting research field.


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