Field-effect transistor

The field-effect transistor (FET) is an electronic device which uses an electric field to control the flow of current. This is achieved by the application of a voltage to the gate terminal, which in turn alters the conductivity between the drain and source terminals.

FETs are also known as unipolar transistors since they involve single-carrier-type operation. Many different types of field effect transistors exist. Field effect transistors generally display very high input impedance at low frequencies.


The field-effect transistor was first patented by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld in 1926 and by Oskar Heil in 1934, but practical semiconducting devices (the junction field-effect transistors [JFETs]) were developed later after the transistor effect was observed and explained by the team of William Shockley at Bell Labs in 1947, shortly after the 17-year patent period eventually expired.

The first type of JFET was the static induction transistor (SIT), invented by Japanese engineers Jun-ichi Nishizawa and Y. Watanabe in 1950. The SIT is a type of JFET with a short channel length.[1] The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), which largely superseded the JFET and had a profound effect on digital electronic development, was invented by Dawon Kahng and Martin Atalla in 1959.[2]

Basic information

FETs can be majority-charge-carrier devices, in which the current is carried predominantly by majority carriers, or minority-charge-carrier devices, in which the current is mainly due to a flow of minority carriers.[3] The device consists of an active channel through which charge carriers, electrons or holes, flow from the source to the drain. Source and drain terminal conductors are connected to the semiconductor through ohmic contacts. The conductivity of the channel is a function of the potential applied across the gate and source terminals.

The FET's three terminals are:[4]

  1. source (S), through which the carriers enter the channel. Conventionally, current entering the channel at S is designated by IS.
  2. drain (D), through which the carriers leave the channel. Conventionally, current entering the channel at D is designated by ID. Drain-to-source voltage is VDS.
  3. gate (G), the terminal that modulates the channel conductivity. By applying voltage to G, one can control ID.

More about terminals

Lateral mosfet
Cross section of an n-type MOSFET

All FETs have source, drain, and gate terminals that correspond roughly to the emitter, collector, and base of BJTs. Most FETs have a fourth terminal called the body, base, bulk, or substrate. This fourth terminal serves to bias the transistor into operation; it is rare to make non-trivial use of the body terminal in circuit designs, but its presence is important when setting up the physical layout of an integrated circuit. The size of the gate, length L in the diagram, is the distance between source and drain. The width is the extension of the transistor, in the direction perpendicular to the cross section in the diagram (i.e., into/out of the screen). Typically the width is much larger than the length of the gate. A gate length of 1 µm limits the upper frequency to about 5 GHz, 0.2 µm to about 30 GHz.

The names of the terminals refer to their functions. The gate terminal may be thought of as controlling the opening and closing of a physical gate. This gate permits electrons to flow through or blocks their passage by creating or eliminating a channel between the source and drain. Electron-flow from the source terminal towards the drain terminal is influenced by an applied voltage. The body simply refers to the bulk of the semiconductor in which the gate, source and drain lie. Usually the body terminal is connected to the highest or lowest voltage within the circuit, depending on the type of the FET. The body terminal and the source terminal are sometimes connected together since the source is often connected to the highest or lowest voltage within the circuit, although there are several uses of FETs which do not have such a configuration, such as transmission gates and cascode circuits.

Effect of gate voltage on current

JFET n-channel en
I–V characteristics and output plot of a JFET n-channel transistor.
Threshold formation nowatermark
Simulation result for right side: formation of inversion channel (electron density) and left side: current-gate voltage curve(transfer characteristics) in an n-channel nanowire MOSFET. Note that the threshold voltage for this device lies around 0.45 V.
FET Symbols
FET conventional symbol types

The FET controls the flow of electrons (or electron holes) from the source to drain by affecting the size and shape of a "conductive channel" created and influenced by voltage (or lack of voltage) applied across the gate and source terminals. (For simplicity, this discussion assumes that the body and source are connected.) This conductive channel is the "stream" through which electrons flow from source to drain.


In an n-channel "depletion-mode" device, a negative gate-to-source voltage causes a depletion region to expand in width and encroach on the channel from the sides, narrowing the channel. If the active region expands to completely close the channel, the resistance of the channel from source to drain becomes large, and the FET is effectively turned off like a switch (see right figure, when there is very small current). This is called "pinch-off", and the voltage at which it occurs is called the "pinch-off voltage". Conversely, a positive gate-to-source voltage increases the channel size and allows electrons to flow easily (see right figure, when there is a conduction channel and current is large).

In an n-channel "enhancement-mode" device, a conductive channel does not exist naturally within the transistor, and a positive gate-to-source voltage is necessary to create one. The positive voltage attracts free-floating electrons within the body towards the gate, forming a conductive channel. But first, enough electrons must be attracted near the gate to counter the dopant ions added to the body of the FET; this forms a region with no mobile carriers called a depletion region, and the voltage at which this occurs is referred to as the threshold voltage of the FET. Further gate-to-source voltage increase will attract even more electrons towards the gate which are able to create a conductive channel from source to drain; this process is called inversion.


In a p-channel "depletion-mode" device, a positive voltage from gate to body widens the depletion layer by forcing electrons to the gate-insulator/semiconductor interface, leaving exposed a carrier-free region of immobile, positively charged acceptor ions. Conversely, in a p-channel "enhancement-mode" device, a conductive region does not exist and negative voltage must be used to generate a conduction channel.

Effect of source/drain voltage on channel

For either enhancement- or depletion-mode devices, at drain-to-source voltages much less than gate-to-source voltages, changing the gate voltage will alter the channel resistance, and drain current will be proportional to drain voltage (referenced to source voltage). In this mode the FET operates like a variable resistor and the FET is said to be operating in a linear mode or ohmic mode.[5][6]

If drain-to-source voltage is increased, this creates a significant asymmetrical change in the shape of the channel due to a gradient of voltage potential from source to drain. The shape of the inversion region becomes "pinched-off" near the drain end of the channel. If drain-to-source voltage is increased further, the pinch-off point of the channel begins to move away from the drain towards the source. The FET is said to be in saturation mode;[7] although some authors refer to it as active mode, for a better analogy with bipolar transistor operating regions.[8][9] The saturation mode, or the region between ohmic and saturation, is used when amplification is needed. The in-between region is sometimes considered to be part of the ohmic or linear region, even where drain current is not approximately linear with drain voltage.

Even though the conductive channel formed by gate-to-source voltage no longer connects source to drain during saturation mode, carriers are not blocked from flowing. Considering again an n-channel enhancement-mode device, a depletion region exists in the p-type body, surrounding the conductive channel and drain and source regions. The electrons which comprise the channel are free to move out of the channel through the depletion region if attracted to the drain by drain-to-source voltage. The depletion region is free of carriers and has a resistance similar to silicon. Any increase of the drain-to-source voltage will increase the distance from drain to the pinch-off point, increasing the resistance of the depletion region in proportion to the drain-to-source voltage applied. This proportional change causes the drain-to-source current to remain relatively fixed, independent of changes to the drain-to-source voltage, quite unlike its ohmic behavior in the linear mode of operation. Thus, in saturation mode, the FET behaves as a constant-current source rather than as a resistor, and can effectively be used as a voltage amplifier. In this case, the gate-to-source voltage determines the level of constant current through the channel.


FETs can be constructed from various semiconductors, with silicon being by far the most common. Most FETs are made by using conventional bulk semiconductor processing techniques, using a single crystal semiconductor wafer as the active region, or channel.

Among the more unusual body materials are amorphous silicon, polycrystalline silicon or other amorphous semiconductors in thin-film transistors or organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) that are based on organic semiconductors; often, OFET gate insulators and electrodes are made of organic materials, as well. Such FETs are manufactured using a variety of materials such as silicon carbide (SiC), gallium arsenide (GaAs), gallium nitride (GaN), and indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs).

In June 2011, IBM announced that it had successfully used graphene-based FETs in an integrated circuit.[10][11] These transistors are capable of about 2.23 GHz cutoff frequency, much higher than standard silicon FETs.[12]


FET comparison
Depletion-type FETs under typical voltages: JFET, poly-silicon MOSFET, double-gate MOSFET, metal-gate MOSFET, MESFET.
Top: source, bottom: drain, left: gate, right: bulk. Voltages that lead to channel formation are not shown.

The channel of a FET is doped to produce either an n-type semiconductor or a p-type semiconductor. The drain and source may be doped of opposite type to the channel, in the case of enhancement mode FETs, or doped of similar type to the channel as in depletion mode FETs. Field-effect transistors are also distinguished by the method of insulation between channel and gate. Types of FETs include:

  • The JFET (junction field-effect transistor) uses a reverse biased p–n junction to separate the gate from the body.
  • The MOSFET (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor) utilizes an insulator (typically SiO2) between the gate and the body.
  • The MNOS metal–nitride–oxide–semiconductor transistor utilizes an nitride-oxide layer insulator between the gate and the body.
  • The DGMOSFET (dual-gate MOSFET), a FET with two insulated gates.
  • The DEPFET is a FET formed in a fully depleted substrate and acts as a sensor, amplifier and memory node at the same time. It can be used as an image (photon) sensor.
  • The FREDFET (fast-reverse or fast-recovery epitaxial diode FET) is a specialized FET designed to provide a very fast recovery (turn-off) of the body diode.
  • The HIGFET (heterostructure insulated-gate field-effect transistor) is now used mainly in research.[13]
  • The MODFET (modulation-doped field-effect transistor) is a high-electron-mobility transistor using a quantum well structure formed by graded doping of the active region.
  • The TFET (tunnel field-effect transistor) is based on band-to-band tunneling.[14]
  • The IGBT (insulated-gate bipolar transistor) is a device for power control. It has a structure akin to a MOSFET coupled with a bipolar-like main conduction channel. These are commonly used for the 200–3000 V drain-to-source voltage range of operation. Power MOSFETs are still the device of choice for drain-to-source voltages of 1 to 200 V.
  • The HEMT (high-electron-mobility transistor), also called a HFET (heterostructure FET), can be made using bandgap engineering in a ternary semiconductor such as AlGaAs. The fully depleted wide-band-gap material forms the isolation between gate and body.
  • The ISFET (ion-sensitive field-effect transistor) can be used to measure ion concentrations in a solution; when the ion concentration (such as H+, see pH electrode) changes, the current through the transistor will change accordingly.
  • The BioFET (Biologically sensitive field-effect transistor) is a class of sensors/biosensors based on ISFET technology which are utilized to detect charged molecules; when a charged molecule is present, changes in the electrostatic field at the BioFET surface result in a measurable change in current through the transistor. These include EnFETs, ImmunoFETs, GenFETs, DNAFETs, CPFETs, BeetleFETs, and FETs based on ion-channels/protein binding.[15]
  • The MESFET (metal–semiconductor field-effect transistor) substitutes the p–n junction of the JFET with a Schottky barrier; and is used in GaAs and other III-V semiconductor materials.
  • The NOMFET is a nanoparticle organic memory field-effect transistor.[16]
  • The GNRFET (graphene nanoribbon field-effect transistor) uses a graphene nanoribbon for its channel.[17]
  • The VeSFET (vertical-slit field-effect transistor) is a square-shaped junctionless FET with a narrow slit connecting the source and drain at opposite corners. Two gates occupy the other corners, and control the current through the slit.[18]
  • The CNTFET (carbon nanotube field-effect transistor).
  • The OFET (organic field-effect transistor) uses an organic semiconductor in its channel.
  • The DNAFET (DNA field-effect transistor) is a specialized FET that acts as a biosensor, by using a gate made of single-strand DNA molecules to detect matching DNA strands.
  • The QFET (quantum field effect transistor) takes advantage of quantum tunneling to greatly increase the speed of transistor operation by eliminating the traditional transistor's area of electron conduction.
  • The SB-FET (Schottky-barrier field-effect transistor) is a field-effect transistor with metallic source and drain contact electrodes, which create Schottky barriers at both the source-channel and drain-channel interfaces.[19][20]
  • The GFET is a highly sensitive graphene-based field effect transistor used as biosensors and chemical sensors. Due to the 2 dimensional structure of graphene, along with its physical properties, GFETs offer increased sensitivity, and reduced instances of 'false positives' in sensing applications[21]


One advantage of the FET is its high gate to main current resistance, on the order of 100 MΩ or more, thus providing a high degree of isolation between control and flow. Because base current noise will increase with shaping time,[22] a FET typically produces less noise than a bipolar junction transistor (BJT), and is thus found in noise sensitive electronics such as tuners and low-noise amplifiers for VHF and satellite receivers. It is relatively immune to radiation. It exhibits no offset voltage at zero drain current and hence makes an excellent signal chopper. It typically has better thermal stability than a BJT.[4] Because they are controlled by gate charge, once the gate is closed or opened, there is no additional power draw, as there would be with a bipolar junction transistor or with non-latching relays in some states. This allows extremely low-power switching, which in turn allows greater miniaturization of circuits because heat dissipation needs are reduced compared to other types of switches.


A field-effect transistor has a relatively low gain–bandwidth product compared to a BJT. The MOSFET is very susceptible to overload voltages, thus requiring special handling during installation.[23] The fragile insulating layer of the MOSFET between the gate and channel makes it vulnerable to electrostatic discharge or changes to threshold voltage during handling. This is not usually a problem after the device has been installed in a properly designed circuit.

FETs often have a very low "on" resistance and have a high "off" resistance. However, the intermediate resistances are significant, and so FETs can dissipate large amounts of power while switching. Thus efficiency can put a premium on switching quickly, but this can cause transients that can excite stray inductances and generate significant voltages that can couple to the gate and cause unintentional switching. FET circuits can therefore require very careful layout and can involve trades between switching speed and power dissipation. There is also a trade-off between voltage rating and "on" resistance, so high-voltage FETs have a relatively high "on" resistance and hence conduction losses.

Failure modes

FETs are relatively robust, especially when operated within the temperature and electrical limitations defined by the manufacturer (proper derating). However, modern FET devices can often incorporate a body diode as part of the overall functionality. If the characteristics of the body diode are not taken into consideration, the FET can experience slow body diode behavior, where a parasitic transistor will turn on and allow high current to be drawn from drain to source when the FET is off.[24]


The most commonly used FET is the MOSFET. The CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) process technology is the basis for modern digital integrated circuits. This process technology uses an arrangement where the (usually "enhancement-mode") p-channel MOSFET and n-channel MOSFET are connected in series such that when one is on, the other is off.

In FETs, electrons can flow in either direction through the channel when operated in the linear mode. The naming convention of drain terminal and source terminal is somewhat arbitrary, as the devices are typically (but not always) built symmetrically from source to drain. This makes FETs suitable for switching analog signals between paths (multiplexing). With this concept, one can construct a solid-state mixing board, for example.

A common use of the FET is as an amplifier. For example, due to its large input resistance and low output resistance, it is effective as a buffer in common-drain (source follower) configuration.

IGBTs are used in switching internal combustion engine ignition coils, where fast switching and voltage blocking capabilities are important.

Source-gated transistor

Source-gated transistors are more robust to manufacturing and environmental issues in large-area electronics such as display screens, but are slower in operation than FETs.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Jun-Ichi Nishizawa (1982). Junction Field-Effect Devices. Semiconductor Devices for Power Conditioning. Springer. pp. 241–272. doi:10.1007/978-1-4684-7263-9_11. ISBN 978-1-4684-7265-3.
  2. ^ "960 - Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) Transistor Demonstrated". The Silicon Engine. Computer History Museum.
  3. ^ Jacob Millman (1985). Electronic devices and circuits. Singapore: McGraw-Hill International. p. 397. ISBN 978-0-07-085505-2.
  4. ^ a b Jacob Millman (1985). Electronic devices and circuits. Singapore: McGraw-Hill. pp. 384–385. ISBN 978-0-07-085505-2.
  5. ^ Galup-Montoro, C.; Schneider, M.C. (2007). MOSFET modeling for circuit analysis and design. London/Singapore: World Scientific. p. 83. ISBN 978-981-256-810-6.
  6. ^ Norbert R Malik (1995). Electronic circuits: analysis, simulation, and design. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. pp. 315–316. ISBN 978-0-02-374910-0.
  7. ^ Spencer, R.R.; Ghausi, M.S. (2001). Microelectronic circuits. Upper Saddle River NJ: Pearson Education/Prentice-Hall. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-201-36183-4.
  8. ^ Sedra, A. S.; Smith, K.C. (2004). Microelectronic circuits (Fifth ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 552. ISBN 978-0-19-514251-8.
  9. ^ PR Gray; PJ Hurst; SH Lewis; RG Meyer (2001). Analysis and design of analog integrated circuits (Fourth ed.). New York: Wiley. pp. §1.5.2 p. 45. ISBN 978-0-471-32168-2.
  10. ^ Bob Yirka (10 January 2011). "IBM creates first graphene based integrated circuit". Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  11. ^ Lin, Y.-M.; Valdes-Garcia, A.; Han, S.-J.; Farmer, D. B.; Sun, Y.; Wu, Y.; Dimitrakopoulos, C.; Grill, A; Avouris, P; Jenkins, K. A. (2011). "Wafer-Scale Graphene Integrated Circuit". Science. 332 (6035): 1294–1297. doi:10.1126/science.1204428. PMID 21659599.
  12. ^ Belle Dumé (10 December 2012). "Flexible graphene transistor sets new records". Physics World. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  13. ^, HIGFET and method - Motorola]
  14. ^ Ionescu, A. M.; Riel, H. (2011). "Tunnel field-effect transistors as energy-efficient electronic switches". Nature. 479 (7373): 329–337. doi:10.1038/nature10679. PMID 22094693.
  15. ^ Schöning, Michael J.; Poghossian, Arshak (2002). "Recent advances in biologically sensitive field-effect transistors (BioFETs)" (PDF). Analyst. 127 (9): 1137–1151. doi:10.1039/B204444G.
  16. ^ "Organic transistor paves way for new generations of neuro-inspired computers". ScienceDaily. January 29, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  17. ^ Sarvari H.; Ghayour, R.; Dastjerdy, E. (2011). "Frequency analysis of graphene nanoribbon FET by Non-Equilibrium Green's Function in mode space". Physica E: Low-dimensional Systems and Nanostructures. 43 (8): 1509–1513. doi:10.1016/j.physe.2011.04.018.
  18. ^ Jerzy Ruzyllo (2016). Semiconductor Glossary: A Resource for Semiconductor Community. World Scientific. p. 244. ISBN 978-981-4749-56-5.
  19. ^ Appenzeller, J, et al. (November 2008). "Toward Nanowire Electronics". IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices. 55 (11): 2827–2845. doi:10.1109/ted.2008.2008011. ISSN 0018-9383. OCLC 755663637.
  20. ^ Prakash, Abhijith; Ilatikhameneh, Hesameddin; Wu, Peng; Appenzeller, Joerg (2017). "Understanding contact gating in Schottky barrier transistors from 2D channels". Scientific Reports. 7 (1): 12596. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-12816-3. ISSN 2045-2322. OCLC 1010581463. PMC 5626721. PMID 28974712.
  21. ^ Miklos, Bolza. "What Are Graphene Field Effect Transistors (GFETs)?". Graphenea. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  22. ^ VIII.5. Noise in Transistors
  23. ^ Allen Mottershead (2004). Electronic devices and circuits. New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India. ISBN 978-81-203-0124-5.
  24. ^ Slow Body Diode Failures of Field Effect Transistors (FETs): A Case Study.
  25. ^ Sporea, R.A.; Trainor, M.J.; Young, N.D.; Silva, S.R.P. (2014). "Source-gated transistors for order-of-magnitude performance improvements in thin-film digital circuits". Scientific Reports. 4: 4295. doi:10.1038/srep04295. PMC 3944386. PMID 24599023.

External links

Armstrong oscillator

The Armstrong oscillator (also known as the Meissner oscillator) is an electronic oscillator circuit which uses an inductor and capacitor to generate an oscillation. It is the earliest oscillator circuit, invented by US engineer Edwin Armstrong in 1912 and independently by Austrian engineer Alexander Meissner in 1913, and was used in the first vacuum tube radio transmitters. It is sometimes called a tickler oscillator because its distinguishing feature is that the feedback signal needed to produce oscillations is magnetically coupled into the tank inductor in the input circuit by a "tickler coil" (L2, right) in the output circuit. Assuming the coupling is weak, but sufficient to sustain oscillation, the oscillation frequency f is determined primarily by the tank circuit (L1 and C in the figure on the right) and is approximately given by

This circuit was widely used in the regenerative radio receiver, popular until the 1940s. In that application, the input radio frequency signal from the antenna is magnetically coupled into the tank circuit by an additional winding, and the feedback is reduced with an adjustable gain control in the feedback loop, so the circuit is just short of oscillation. The result is a narrow-band radio-frequency filter and amplifier. The non-linear characteristic of the transistor or tube also demodulated the RF signal to produce the audio signal.

The circuit diagram shown is a modern implementation, using a field-effect transistor as the amplifying element. Armstrong's original design used a triode vacuum tube.

Note that in the Meissner variant, the LC resonant (tank) circuit is exchanged with the feedback coil, i.e. in the output path (vacuum tube plate, field effect transistor drain, or bipolar transistor collector) of the amplifier (e.g. Grebennikov, Fig. 2.8). Many publications, however, embrace both variants with either name. Apparently, the English speakers using Armstrong, and the German speakers Meißner.

Carbon nanotube field-effect transistor

A carbon nanotube field-effect transistor (CNTFET) refers to a field-effect transistor that utilizes a single carbon nanotube or an array of carbon nanotubes as the channel material instead of bulk silicon in the traditional MOSFET structure. First demonstrated in 1998, there have been major developments in CNTFETs since.

Chemical field-effect transistor

See also ISFET

A ChemFET is a chemically-sensitive field-effect transistor, that is a field-effect transistor used as a sensor for measuring chemical concentrations in solution. When the target analyte concentration changes, the current through the transistor will change accordingly. Here, the analyte solution separates the source and gate electrodes. A concentration gradient between the solution and the gate electrode arises due to a semi-permeable membrane on the FET surface containing receptor moieties that preferentially bind the target analyte. This concentration gradient of charged analyte ions creates a chemical potential between the source and gate, which is in turn measured by the FET.

Constant-current diode

Constant-current diode is an electronic device that limits current to a maximal specified value for the device. It is known as current-limiting diode (CLD), current-regulating diode (CRD).

These diodes consist of an n-channel JFET with the gate shorted to the source, which functions like a two-terminal current limiter or current source (analogous to a voltage-limiting Zener diode). They allow a current through them to rise to a certain value, and then level off at a specific value. Unlike Zener diodes, these diodes keep the current constant instead of the voltage constant. These devices keep the current flowing through them unchanged when the voltage changes. An example is the 1N5312. Note the negative VGS is required, as an example on the n-type junction-gate field-effect transistor 2N5457.

DNA field-effect transistor

A DNA field-effect transistor (DNAFET) is a field-effect transistor which uses the field-effect due to the partial charges of DNA molecules to function as a biosensor. The structure of DNAFETs is similar to that of MOSFETs with the exception of the gate structure which, in DNAFETs, is replaced by a layer of immobilized ssDNA (single-stranded DNA) molecules which act as surface receptors. When complementary DNA strands hybridize to the receptors, the charge distribution near the surface changes, which in turn modulates current transport through the semiconductor transducer.

Arrays of DNAFETs can be used for detecting single nucleotide polymorphisms (causing many hereditary diseases) and for DNA sequencing. Their main advantage compared to optical detection methods in common use today is that they do not require labeling of molecules. Furthermore, they work continuously and (near) real-time. DNAFETs are highly selective since only specific binding modulates charge transport.


An EOSFET or electrolyte–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor is a FET, like a MOSFET, but with the metal replaced by electrolyte solution for the detection of neuronal activity. Many EOSFETs are integrated in a neurochip.


A FREDFET (sometimes, FredFET) is a fast-reverse or fast-recovery epitaxial diode field-effect transistor. This specialised field-effect transistor is designed to provide a very fast recovery (turn-off) of the body diode, making it convenient for driving inductive loads such as electric motors, especially medium-powered brushless DC motors.


A Fin Field-effect transistor (FinFET) is a MOSFET built on a substrate where the gate is placed on two, three, or four sides of the channel or wrapped around the channel, forming a double gate structure. These devices have been given the generic name "finfets" because the source/drain region forms fins on the silicon surface. The FinFET devices have significantly faster switching times and higher current density than the mainstream CMOS technology.

The term FinFET (fin field-effect transistor) was coined in 2001 by University of California, Berkeley, researchers (Profs. Chenming Hu, Tsu-Jae King-Liu and Jeffrey Bokor) to describe a nonplanar, double-gate transistor built on an SOI substrate, based on the earlier DELTA (single-gate) transistor design.The FinFET transistors can have gate thickness of 5 nanometres and gate width under 50 nm, are supposed to find application in sub-28 nanometer chips. FinFET technology is being pursued by AMD, NVidia, IBM, ARM and Motorola and in academia.

The industry's first 25 nanometer transistor operating on just 0.7 volt was demonstrated in December 2002 by TSMC. The "Omega FinFET" design, named after the similarity between the Greek letter "Omega" and the shape in which the gate wraps around the source/drain structure, has a gate delay of just 0.39 picosecond (ps) for the N-type transistor and 0.88 ps for the P-type.

Intel's tri-gate transistors, where the gate surrounds the channel on three sides, allow for increased energy efficiency and lower gate delay—and thus greater performance—over planar transistors.The first finfet transistor type was known under the name of fully Depleted Lean-channel TrAnsistor or DELTA transistor.

Articles covering the DELTA transistor were first published in the beginning of the 1990s. The gate of the transistor can cover and electrically contact the semiconductor channel fin on both the top and the sides or only on the sides. The former is called a tri-gate transistor and the latter a double-gate transistor. A double-gate transistor optionally can have each side connected to two different terminal or contacts. This variant is called split transistor. This enables more refined control of the operation of the transistor.


An ISFET is an ion-sensitive field-effect transistor, that is a field-effect transistor used for measuring ion concentrations in solution; when the ion concentration (such as H+, see pH scale) changes, the current through the transistor will change accordingly. Here, the solution is used as the gate electrode. A voltage between substrate and oxide surfaces arises due to an ion sheath.

The surface hydrolysis of Si–OH groups of the gate materials varies in aqueous solutions due to pH value. Typical gate materials are SiO2, Si3N4, Al2O3 and Ta2O5.

The mechanism responsible for the oxide surface charge can be described by the site binding model, which describes the equilibrium between the Si–OH surface sites and the H+ ions in the solution. The hydroxyl groups coating an oxide surface such as that of SiO2 can donate or accept a proton and thus behave in an amphoteric way as illustrated by the following acid-base reactions occurring at the oxide-electrolyte interface:

—Si–OH + H2O ↔ —Si–O− + H3O+—Si–OH + H3O+ ↔ —Si–OH2+ + H2OAn ISFET's source and drain are constructed as for a MOSFET. The gate electrode is separated from the channel by a barrier which is sensitive to hydrogen ions and a gap to allow the substance under test to come in contact with the sensitive barrier. An ISFET's threshold voltage depends on the pH of the substance in contact with its ion-sensitive barrier.

ISFET was invented by Piet Bergveld in 1970.


The inverted-T field-effect transistor (ITFET) is a type of field effect transistor invented by Leo Mathew at Freescale Semiconductor. Part of the device extends vertically from the horizontal plane in an inverted T shape, hence the name.


The junction gate field-effect transistor (JFET or JUGFET) is one of the simple type of field-effect transistor. JFETs are three-terminal semiconductor devices that can be used as electronically-controlled switches, amplifiers, or voltage-controlled resistors.

Unlike bipolar transistors, JFETs are exclusively voltage-controlled in that they do not need a biasing current. Electric charge flows through a semiconducting channel between source and drain terminals. By applying a reverse bias voltage to a gate terminal, the channel is "pinched", so that the electric current is impeded or switched off completely. A JFET is usually ON when there is no potential difference between its gate and source terminals. If a potential difference of the proper polarity is applied between its gate and source terminals, the JFET will be more resistive to current flow, which means less current would flow in the channel between the source and drain terminals. Thus, JFETs are sometimes referred to as depletion-mode devices.

JFETs can have an n-type or p-type channel. In the n-type, if the voltage applied to the gate is less than that applied to the source, the current will be reduced (similarly in the p-type, if the voltage applied to the gate is greater than that applied to the source). A JFET has a large input impedance (sometimes on the order of 1010 ohms), which means that it has a negligible effect on external components or circuits connected to its gate.


A MESFET (metal–semiconductor field-effect transistor) is a field-effect transistor semiconductor device similar to a JFET with a Schottky (metal-semiconductor) junction instead of a p-n junction for a gate.


The metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET) is a type of field-effect transistor (FET), most commonly fabricated by the controlled oxidation of silicon. It has an insulated gate, whose voltage determines the conductivity of the device. This ability to change conductivity with the amount of applied voltage can be used for amplifying or switching electronic signals. A metal-insulator-semiconductor field-effect transistor or MISFET is a term almost synonymous with MOSFET. Another synonym is IGFET for insulated-gate field-effect transistor.

The basic principle of the field-effect transistor was first patented by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld in 1925.The main advantage of a MOSFET is that it requires almost no input current to control the load current, when compared with bipolar transistors. In an enhancement mode MOSFET, voltage applied to the gate terminal increases the conductivity of the device. In depletion mode transistors, voltage applied at the gate reduces the conductivity.The "metal" in the name MOSFET is sometimes a misnomer, because the gate material can be a layer of polysilicon (polycrystalline silicon). Similarly, "oxide" in the name can also be a misnomer, as different dielectric materials are used with the aim of obtaining strong channels with smaller applied voltages.

The MOSFET is by far the most common transistor in digital circuits, as billions may be included in a memory chip or microprocessor. Since MOSFETs can be made with either p-type or n-type semiconductors, complementary pairs of MOS transistors can be used to make switching circuits with very low power consumption, in the form of CMOS logic.

Multigate device

A multigate device or multiple-gate field-effect transistor (MuGFET) refers to a MOSFET (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor) that incorporates more than one gate into a single device. The multiple gates may be controlled by a single gate electrode, wherein the multiple gate surfaces act electrically as a single gate, or by independent gate electrodes. A multigate device employing independent gate electrodes is sometimes called a multiple-independent-gate field-effect transistor (MIGFET).

Multigate transistors are one of the several strategies being developed by CMOS semiconductor manufacturers to create ever-smaller microprocessors and memory cells, colloquially referred to as extending Moore's law.Development efforts into multigate transistors have been reported by AMD, Hitachi, IBM, Infineon Technologies, Intel Corporation, TSMC, Freescale Semiconductor, University of California, Berkeley, and others, and the ITRS predicted correctly that such devices will be the cornerstone of sub-32 nm technologies. The primary roadblock to widespread implementation is manufacturability, as both planar and non-planar designs present significant challenges, especially with respect to lithography and patterning. Other complementary strategies for device scaling include channel strain engineering, silicon-on-insulator-based technologies, and high-κ/metal gate materials.

Dual-gate MOSFETs are commonly used in very high frequency (VHF) mixers and in sensitive VHF front-end amplifiers. They are available from manufacturers such as Motorola, NXP Semiconductors, and Hitachi.

Organic field-effect transistor

An organic field-effect transistor (OFET) is a field-effect transistor using an organic semiconductor in its channel. OFETs can be prepared either by vacuum evaporation of small molecules, by solution-casting of polymers or small molecules, or by mechanical transfer of a peeled single-crystalline organic layer onto a substrate. These devices have been developed to realize low-cost, large-area electronic products and biodegradable electronics. OFETs have been fabricated with various device geometries. The most commonly used device geometry is bottom gate with top drain and source electrodes, because this geometry is similar to the thin-film silicon transistor (TFT) using thermally grown SiO2 as gate dielectric. Organic polymers, such as poly(methyl-methacrylate) (PMMA), can also be used as dielectric.In May 2007, Sony reported the first full-color, video-rate, flexible, all plastic display, in which both the thin-film transistors and the light-emitting pixels were made of organic materials.

Regenerative loop antenna

The regenerative loop antenna can consist of a tuned signal winding on an open X frame with a feed back winding in close proximity. High effective gain is achieved, for example by placing this feedback winding in the drain circuit of a JFET (junction field effect transistor). An antenna of this type employing vacuum tubes was constructed by Vladimir Zworykin in the 1920s.

Threshold voltage

The threshold voltage, commonly abbreviated as Vth, of a field-effect transistor (FET) is the minimum gate-to-source voltage VGS (th) that is needed to create a conducting path between the source and drain terminals. It is an important scaling factor to maintain power efficiency.

When referring to a junction field-effect transistor (JFET), the threshold voltage is often called "pinch-off voltage" instead. This is somewhat confusing since pinch off applied to insulated-gate field-effect transistor (IGFET) refers to the channel pinching that leads to current saturation behaviour under high source–drain bias, even though the current is never off. Unlike pinch off, the term threshold voltage is unambiguous and refers to the same concept in any field-effect transistor.


A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals controls the current through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.

The transistor is the fundamental building block of modern electronic devices, and is ubiquitous in modern electronic systems. Julius Edgar Lilienfeld patented a field-effect transistor in 1926 but it was not possible to actually construct a working device at that time. The first practically implemented device was a point-contact transistor invented in 1947 by American physicists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley. The transistor revolutionized the field of electronics, and paved the way for smaller and cheaper radios, calculators, and computers, among other things. The transistor is on the list of IEEE milestones in electronics, and Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley shared the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for their achievement.Most transistors are made from very pure silicon or germanium, but certain other semiconductor materials can also be used. A transistor may have only one kind of charge carrier, in a field effect transistor, or may have two kinds of charge carriers in bipolar junction transistor devices. Compared with the vacuum tube, transistors are generally smaller, and require less power to operate. Certain vacuum tubes have advantages over transistors at very high operating frequencies or high operating voltages. Many types of transistors are made to standardized specifications by multiple manufacturers.

Tunnel field-effect transistor

The tunnel field-effect transistor (TFET) is an experimental type of transistor. Even though its structure is very similar to a metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), the fundamental switching mechanism differs, making this device a promising candidate for low power electronics. TFETs switch by modulating quantum tunneling through a barrier instead of modulating thermionic emission over a barrier as in traditional MOSFETs. Because of this, TFETs are not limited by the thermal Maxwell–Boltzmann tail of carriers, which limits MOSFET drain current subthreshold swing to about 60 mV/decade of current at room temperature (exactly 63 mV/decade at 300 K). The concept was proposed by Chang et al while working at IBM . Joerg Appenzeller and his colleagues at IBM were the first to demonstrate that current swings below the MOSFET’s 60-mV-per-decade limit were possible. In 2004, they reported they had created a tunnel transistor with a carbon nanotube channel and a subthreshold swing of just 40 mV per decade.

In 2015, a team led by Kaustav Banerjee at University of California, Santa Barbara demonstrated a tunnel transistor by making a vertical structure with atomically thin MoS2 as the active channel and germanium as the source electrode, exhibiting a minimum subthreshold swing of only 3.9 mV per decade and an average of ~30 mV per decade over four decades of drain current at room temperature, and capable of switching at 0.1 V.

Theoretical work has indicated that significant power savings can be obtained by using low-voltage TFETs in place of MOSFETs in logic circuits.

In classical MOSFET devices, the 63 mV/decade is a fundamental limit to power scaling. The ratio between on-current and the off-current (especially the subthreshold leakage — one major contributor of power consumption) is given by the ratio between the threshold voltage and the subthreshold slope, e.g.:

The subthreshold swing is proportional to the transistor speed: The lower the subthreshold swing, the faster a transistor will be able to charge its fan-out (consecutive capacitive load). For a given transistor speed and a maximum acceptable subthreshold leakage, the subthreshold slope thus defines a certain minimal threshold voltage. Reducing the threshold voltage is an essential part for the idea of constant field scaling. Since 2003, the major technology developers got almost stuck in threshold voltage scaling and thus could also not scale supply voltage (which due to technical reasons has to be at least 3 times the threshold voltage for high performance devices). As a consequence, the processor speed did not develop as fast as before 2003 (see Beyond CMOS). The advent of a mass-producible TFET device with a slope far below 63 mV/decade will enable the industry to continue the scaling trends from the 1990s, where processor frequency doubled each 3 years.

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