New Transistor Design Aims to Boost Business for UK Fabs

CMOS-alternative uses quantum tunnelling effect to slash lead times

LONDON – A collaboration between a British startup and a British foundry has produced test devices of a new transistor type that can be produced with just three weeks’ lead time as it requires only eight mask steps.

By comparison, CMOS process typically requires many more mask steps and takes around 15 weeks, said joint developers of the technology, Search For the Next (SFN) and Semefab.

Bizen devices can be produced quickly and economically at relatively large process nodes suitable for low capex fabs based in the UK. While all current Bizen devices have been produced by co-developers Semefab in Scotland, SFN said that the process would also be transferrable to fabs such as Plessey (GaN) in England and Newport Wafer Fab (compound semiconductor) in Wales.

Bizen circuit symbol
Circuit symbol for the Bizen (bipolar-zener) transistor showing the input which uses the quantum tunnelling effect (Image: SFN)

The Bizen process, named for its combination of a bipolar junction with concepts from a Zener diode, uses the quantum tunnelling effect to eliminate the resistor, and all metal layers, from a traditional bipolar transistor. The transistor’s input is via a quantum tunnelling connection and the device has two identical outputs (anodes 1 and 2; analogous to collector and emitter in a BJT), allowing for AC signals. The transistor is normally-on; bringing the tunnel to the highest potential turns it off.

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Sally Ward-Foxton is a Correspondent for EETimes and EETimes Europe