The silicon-based microelectronics industry is rapidly approaching a point where device fabrication can no longer be simply scaled to progressively smaller sizes. Technological decisions must now be made that will substantially alter the directions along which silicon devices continue to develop. One such challenge is the need for higher permittivity dielectrics to replace silicon dioxide, the properties of which have hitherto been instrumental to the industry's success. Considerable efforts have already been made to develop replacement dielectrics for dynamic random-access memories. These developments serve to illustrate the magnitude of the now urgent problem of identifying alternatives to silicon dioxide for the gate dielectric in logic devices, such as the ubiquitous field-effect transistor.
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