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A Study of the Material Best Suited to Replace Silicon as thePrincipal Semiconductor In Computer Chips Public Deposited

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  • Sponsored by: Dechief, Dianne Yvonne CCOM 206 -Communication in Engineering-Writing Recognition Award (Fall 2015)
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  • Transistors made from silicon are more ubiquitous than ever, but the technology itself is not optimal. Some physical properties of silicon may hinder future technological progress. Two alternative semiconductor materials – diamond and gallium nitride (GaN) – are studied and their properties compared in order to find a suitable replacement. Speed is evaluated by using cutoff frequency and electron mobility; resistance to voltage and heat is evaluated by using the breakdown electric field, melting point, and thermal conductivity. It is found that diamond possesses superior characteristics in nearly every category. Of particular import are the cutoff frequency, the breakdown electric field, and the thermal conductivity of each transistor. The cutoff frequency of a silicon transistor is 0.055 GHz. For both the diamond and GaN transistors, it is 2 GHz. The breakdown electric field of silicon is 0.22 V.cm-1; for diamond, it is 4.00 V.cm-1; for GaN, 9.50 V.cm-1. Finally, silicon’s thermal conductivity at 300 K is 1.48 W.cm-1.K-1. Diamond easily bests its competitors with a thermal conductivity of 32.2 W.cm-1.K-1, while GaN’s thermal conductivity is 2.53 W.cm-1.K-1. In light of these results, a diamond semiconductor has the potential to offer much faster and much more reliable transistors to many markets, ranging from professional applications to consumer-grade electronics.
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