Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Lateral Single-Electron Memory (L-SEM) array

The minimum feature size in the three main semiconductor memory devices, DRAM, SRAM and non-volatile, is projected to reach about 50 nm by 2012, after which new memory devices are expected to be introduced, for both technological and economic reasons.
The FASEM consortium has invented a possible replacement technology, the Lateral Single-Electron Memory (L-SEM). Single-electron memories have several advantages over conventional memories: low power consumption, longer storage time than DRAM, and faster access time than current non-volatile memories. The L-SEM can be used to fabricate a fast, random-access memory with the potential for large-scale integration. The project has been successful in showing that single-electron transistors can be the basis of a CMOS-compatible memory technology for the terabit era. The fabrication of nanostructures for these devices has advanced the state-of-the-art significantly, and small L-SEM memory arrays have been linked to peripheral devices in a CMOS circuit, establishing the compatibility of L-SEM processing with standard CMOS processing.
The L-SEM cell uses a single-electron device coupled to a conventional MOSFET. The cell has been fabricated in crystalline silicon-on-insulator (SOI) material using a heavily-doped, side-gated silicon nanowire single-electron transistor (SET). Typically, the SET silicon nanowire cross-sectional area is less than ~40 nm ? 40 nm. The cell has been operated with detectable storage of small electron numbers (~60 electrons on a 1 µm ? 70 nm area memory node). The write/erase time of the cell is 10 ns and the cell can operate successfully at temperatures up to circa 50 K. The crystalline silicon-on-insulator L-SEM cell has been integrated into a small 3 ? 3 bit memory array. Full functional operation of the memory has been demonstrated, including the read/write timing cycle and cell selection without data corruption.
Potential barriers to the commercial application of the L-SEM array include: operating temperature (at present, operation has been demonstrated up to ~50 K, but higher temperatures approaching room temperature should be possible as the technology develops); storage time (currently 1 s at 40 K); competition from other non-volatile memories, like the PLEDM and FeRAM. Several years of further research and development are required before the technology can be considered by industry for prototyping.

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Trinity Lane, The Old Schools,
United Kingdom
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