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Strained Silicon to enable next computer age


Strained silicon technology holds a promising future in the semiconductor industry for serving the needs of the next generation high-speed computing devices. Industrial efforts are expected to reap long-term benefits as the technology opens up an entirely new domain in the demanding semiconductor industry. 

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Global Advances in Strained Silicon Technology, finds that strained silicon technology will contribute effectively to meeting demands in applications such as supercomputers, game consoles and high speed memory devices.
“As the semiconductor industry approaches physical restrictions of geometric scaling, researchers are analysing advanced and alternate technologies for improving device performance,” says Frost & Sullivan technical insights research analyst Krishnakumar Srinivasan.
While reducing the transistor size enables the enhancement of device and system speed, it affects the mobility of the channel beyond a certain limit. This disrupts the functioning of the device as a whole.
Strained Silicon technology has however evolved to efficiently resolve this issue in the industrial setting. By increasing the electron mobility rate, it is feasible to achieve higher transistor switching speeds. Higher switching speeds refer to higher frequencies and this in return, leads to fast computing.
In addition, strained silicon technology enables the enhancement of transistor performance without transistor scaling.
“It is feasible to produce high computing speed devices using strained technology, without actually going in for transistor scaling,” notes Srinivasan. “High transistor switching speed complemented by enhanced performance are the primary driving factors of strained silicon technology.”
However, the lack of this standard needs resolution in the near future to promote the potential of strained silicon technologies. Industry strives to develop efficient spectrometric mechanisms and systems that can track and control the applied strain. The adoption of all of these techniques and approaches will become possible only when their performance capabilities can be benchmarked against some standard.
“Beyond measurement of strain and maintaining uniformity of strain, the industry is confronted with reliability issues, material effects, device defects and process integration/design issues,” says Jagadeesan. “Furthermore, other challenges related to related technologies such as silicon-on-insulator (SOI) have to be resolved.”