The U.K. e-science grid is being used to run simulations of transistors smaller than 30 nanometers, which will help designers manage the physical constraints that come into effect when working on such a small scale. Hundreds of thousands of tiny transistors have already been simulated, using about 20 years worth of processing time. The researchers hope to understand how such small components function and determine the best way to produce future generations of nanoscale chips. “What we do in these simulations is try to predict the behavior of these devices in the presence of atomic-scale effects,” says the University of Glasgow’s Asen Asenov, who is leading the NanoCMOS simulation project. The current generation of chips features transistors about 32 nanometers in size, but manufacturers want to move to transistors with even smaller components. “What’s happening at such dimensions is that the atomic structure of the transistor cannot be precisely controlled,” Asenov says. “In order to make them work we have to put in impurities to define different regions.” The researchers are learning how to best deploy materials so transistors provide reliable and dependable performance at the nanoscale.
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