Power dissipation is a key factor for mobile devices and other low power applications. Complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) is the dominant integrated circuit (IC) technology responsible for a large part of this power dissipation. As the minimum feature size of CMOS devices enters into the sub 50 nanometer (nm) regime, power dissipation becomes much worse due to intrinsic physical limits.
Many approaches have been studied to reduce power dissipation of deeply scaled CMOS ICs. One possible candidate is the electrostatic electromechanical switch, which could be fabricated with conventional CMOS processing techniques. They have critical advantages compared to CMOS devices such as almost zero standby leakage in the off-state due to the absence of a pn junction and a gate oxide, as well as excellent drive current in the on-state due to a metallic channel.
Despite their excellent standby power dissipation, the electrostatic MEMS/NEMS switches have not been considered as a viable replacement for CMOS devices due to their large mechanical delay. Moreover, previous literature reveals that their pull-in voltage and switching speed are strongly proportional to each other. This reduces their potential advantage. However, in this work, we theoretically and experimentally demonstrated that the use of single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) with very low mass density and strong mechanical properties could provide a route to move off of the conventional trend with respect to the pull-in voltage / switching speed tradeoff observed in the literature.
We fabricated 2-terminal fixed- beam switches with aligned composite SWNT thin films. In this work, layer-by-layer (LbL) self-assembly and dielectrophoresis were selected for aligned-composite SWNT thin film deposition. The dense membranes were successfully patterned to form submicron beams by e-beam lithography and oxygen plasma etching. Fixed-fixed beam switches using these membranes successfully operated with approximately 600 psec switching delay and as low as a 3 V dc pull-in. From this we confirmed that the SWNT-based thin films have the potential to make fast MEMS switches with a low operation voltage due to its low mass density and high stiffness. However, the copolymer caused a serious reliability issue and a copolymer-free SWNT film deposition method was developed by replacing positive copolymer with a dispersion of positively functionalized SWNTs.
The electrical and physical properties of pure single-walled carbon nanotube thin films deposited through a copolymer-free LbL self-assembly process are then discussed. The film thickness was proportional to the number of dipping cycles. The film resistivity was estimated as 2.19x10^-3 Ohm-cm after thermal treatments were performed. The estimated specific contact resistance to gold electrodes was 6.33x10^-9 Ohm-m^2 from contact chain measurements. The fabricated 3-terminal MEMS switches using these films functioned as a beam for multiple switching cycles with a 4.5V pull-in voltage, which was operated like a 2-input NAND gate. The SWNT-based thin film switch is promising for a variety of applications to high-end nanoelectronics and high- performance MEMS/NEMS.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2011. Major: Electrical Engineering. Advisor: Prof. Stephen A. Campbell. 1 computer file (PDF); xix, 201 pages.
Low mass MEMS/NEMS switch for a substitute of CMOS transistor using single-walled carbon nanotube thin film.
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