Subthreshold Schottky-barrier thin-film transistors with ultralow power and high intrinsic gain

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Science  21 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6310, pp. 302-304
DOI: 10.1126/science.aah5035

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Almost-off transistors

Wearable devices and environmental sensors ideally should consume very little power to avoid the need for batteries that would have to be replaced. Lee and Nathan developed a thin-film transistor (TFT) from In-Ga-Zn-O thin films. To make the material less conductive, the films were fabricated to avoid oxygen vacancies. The TFT operated at ultralow power (less than 1 nW) and at switching voltages of less than 1 V with very high intrinsic gain. The devices work by changing the height of the so-called Schottky barrier formed between the semiconductor gate material and the metal drain contact.

Science, this issue p. 302


The quest for low power becomes highly compelling in newly emerging application areas related to wearable devices in the Internet of Things. Here, we report on a Schottky-barrier indium-gallium-zinc-oxide thin-film transistor operating in the deep subthreshold regime (i.e., near the OFF state) at low supply voltages (<1 volt) and ultralow power (<1 nanowatt). By using a Schottky-barrier at the source and drain contacts, the current-voltage characteristics of the transistor were virtually channel-length independent with an infinite output resistance. It exhibited high intrinsic gain (>400) that was both bias and geometry independent. The transistor reported here is useful for sensor interface circuits in wearable devices where high current sensitivity and ultralow power are vital for battery-less operation.

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