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Intel Corp. and its partner QinetiQ said Tuesday the result of a two-year new transistor technology joint research programme by the two companies could become a promising candidate for making microprocessors in the middle of the next.

Researchers from the two companies have successfully built “quantum well” transistors by integrating a new transistor material, pioneered by QinetiQ called indium antimonide (InSb). InSb is made up of elements found in the III and V columns of the periodic table. Transistors made of this material enable research devices to operate at very low voltages, while still rapidly switching and consuming little power. The research results obtained from the quantum well transistors research showed a 10x lower power consumption for the same performance, or conversely a 3x improvement in transistor performance for the same power consumption, as compared to today’s traditional transistors.

The culmination of a two-year collaboration between Intel and QinetiQ on the research and development of III V transistors for high-performance and low power logic applications, the results were obtained on a “depletion mode” InSb NMOS transistor. Such transistors are normally on and can be turned off by applying a negative voltage to the gate which is in contrast to the more common practice of applying a voltage to switch a gate, when required.

“The experimental results of our joint research with QinetiQ demonstrate that indium antimonide is a promising material for potential integration in future transistors. Indium antimonide is one example of several new materials that Intel will continue to investigate in order to ensure that Moore's Law extends well beyond the next decade,” said Ken David, director of components research for Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group.

Researchers from the two companies first published their results at the International Conference on Solid-State and Integrated-Circuit Technology 2004 in Beijing. Currently a document describing the result can be found at Intel Corp.’s web-site.

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