Unlocking the origin of superior performance of a Si–Ge core–shell nanowire quantum dot field effect transistor

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The sustained advancement in semiconducting core–shell nanowire technology has unlocked a tantalizing route for making next generation field effect transistor (FET). Understanding how to control carrier mobility of these nanowire channels by applying a gate field is the key to developing a high performance FET. Herein, we have identified the switching mechanism responsible for the superior performance of a Si–Ge core–shell nanowire quantum dot FET over its homogeneous Si counterpart. A quantum transport approach is used to investigate the gate-field modulated switching behavior in electronic current for ultranarrow Si and Si–Ge core–shell nanowire quantum dot FETs. Our calculations reveal that for the ON state, the gate-field induced transverse localization of the wave function restricts the carrier transport to the outer (shell) layer with the pzorbitals providing the pathway for tunneling of electrons in the channels. The higher ON state current in the Si–Ge core–shell nanowire FET is attributed to the pz orbitals that are distributed over the entire channel; in the case of Si nanowire, the participating pz orbital is restricted to a few Si atoms in the channel resulting in a smaller tunneling current. Within the gate bias range considered here, the transconductance is found to be substantially higher in the case of a Si–Ge core–shell nanowire FET than in a Si nanowire FET, which suggests a much higher mobility in the Si–Ge nanowire device.

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© 2016 American Chemical Society. Publisher's version of record: https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b00359

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Nano Letters