Atomic scale engineering for InGaAs-based high-performance transistors

One of the major challenges in digital technology is to keep improving the computational power of the microchips.

As Moore's law has predicted, the number of transistors on a single chip has been doubled every two years or so. Today, the smallest components are reaching dimensions where single atoms can be counted. Obviously, such scaling cannot continue much longer, forcing the industry to seek alternative improvements, such as faster switching speeds, within the material’s intrinsic properties. That, however, requires replacing Si with more advanced materials such as III-V compound semiconductors.

After years of extensive research Indium Gallium Arsenide (InGaAs) has been a prime candidate to replace Si in microchip transistors thanks to the high mobilities of charge carriers in the material. A recent discovery by the researchers at MIT confirms the viability of InGaAs for this purpose, encouraging researchers to further pursue InGaAs-based computer transistors.

However, as evidenced by the research, InGaAs properties deteriorate as dimensions of the devices get smaller due to so-called oxide trapping, which causes electrons to get stuck while trying to flow through a transistor.

Comptek Solutions has a potential solution to tackle the issue.

Our novel passivation technology, Kontrox, has proven to achieve a well-ordered defect-free layer between the bulk InGaAs and the gate oxide. This Kontrox layer serves as a template preventing the creation of oxide traps and blocking the charge carriers from entering those traps in the bulk oxide. This is especially important in the nanoscale, where almost the entire device consists of a surface area.

Native oxide surface Cleaned surface (4x2) Kontrox applied c(4x2)

Kontrox treatment transfers InGaAs surface atomic sturcture from random (amorphous) to crystalline, and thus reduces the defect states density remarkedly. The crystalline oxide structure of the Kontrox treated surface can be verified in low energy electron diffraction (LEED).

To create an insulator layer necessary for the functionality of a transistor a process called atomic layer deposition, or ALD, has been widely adapted by the industry due to its various benefits in transistor manufacturing. The process results in a uniform, conformal insulator layer that has various benefits from processing and applicability point of view. Applying Kontrox as an intermediate step before the ALD further enhances the interface leading to lower defect-levels and, ultimately, less oxide trapping. This is a potential key for stepping over the threshold; Thus, Kontrox can be the tool to bring the InGaAs transistors to their full potential, opening new possibilities for the development of high-performance computing and optoelectronics.

Photoluminescence improvement at the interfaces of ALD Al2 O3 /InGaAs

Learn more about Kontrox for transistors at

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