Intel and QinetiQ Collaborate On Transistor Research

Joint Work That Could Form Basis Of 'High Performance' Chips In Next Decade

The results of a two-year joint research programme by Intel Corporation and QinetiQ into new transistor technology that could become a promising candidate for making microprocessors in the middle of the next decade was made public today. Transistors are the tiny switches in microprocessors that process the ones and zeros of the digital world.

Researchers from the two companies have successfully built 'quantum well' transistors by integrating a new transistor material, pioneered by QinetiQ called indium antimonide (InSb). InSb is made up of elements found in the III and V columns of the periodic table. Transistors made of this material enable research devices to operate at very low voltages, while still rapidly switching and consuming little power. The research results obtained from the quantum well transistors research showed a 10x lower power consumption for the same performance, or conversely a 3x improvement in transistor performance for the same power consumption, as compared to today's traditional transistors.

"The experimental results of our joint research with QinetiQ demonstrate that indium antimonide is a promising material for potential integration in future transistors," said Ken David, director of components research for Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group. "Indium antimonide is one example of several new materials that Intel will continue to investigate in order to ensure that Moore's Law extends well beyond the next decade."

"We first developed Indium antimonide transistor technology as part of a UK Ministry of Defence project," added Tim Phillips, business manager of the Fast Transistors group at QinetiQ. "And although this research is still in the initial phase it still shows huge promise for advanced applications. It is also a great example of how QinetiQ, by working with other world leading companies like Intel, is commercialising many of its technologies."

The culmination of a two-year collaboration between Intel and QinetiQ on the research and development of III V transistors for high-performance and low power logic applications, the results were obtained on a "depletion mode" InSb NMOS transistor. Such transistors are normally on and can be turned off by applying a negative voltage to the gate which is in contrast to the more common practice of applying a voltage to switch a gate, when required.

Researchers from the two companies first published their results at the International Conference on Solid-State and Integrated-Circuit Technology 2004 in Beijing. The paper titled 'Novel InSb based Quantum Well Transistors for Ultra-High-Speed, Low Power Logic Applications' can be found at along with additional information about this research.

Notes for Editors:
QinetiQ (pronounced ki' ne tik as in 'kinetic energy') is Europe's largest science and technology solutions company with unrivalled expertise in the defence and security sectors. Founded In July 2001, from the majority of DERA (Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) the laboratories of the UK MOD, QinetiQ directly employs nearly 10,000 people, including many of the UK's leading scientists and internationally acclaimed experts. Today QinetiQ operates in markets as diverse as defence, security, automotive, information technology, health, aerospace, rail, telecommunications, electronics, space, marine, energy and oil & gas.
QinetiQ's facilities include indoor and outdoor ranges, wind tunnels and noise test facilities, marine testing facilities, automotive test tracks and climatic testing laboratories. Its heritage covers the pioneering research and development of many household technologies. These include liquid crystal displays (LCDs), carbon fibre, the technology for flat panel speakers, infra-red sensors and microwave radar, a life saving foetal heart monitoring system, plus other significant advancements in the areas of healthcare, passenger security and transport.
Recently launched security products have included: Ferroguard - a man portable ferromagnetic detection system; X-net - a vehicle arrest device; Tarsier - a radar system that identifies debris on an airport runway; BorderWatch - which can see into vehicles to identify possible clandestines; and The MillimetreWave Portal - a people screening system that can identify concealed weapons.
In late February 2003, The Carlyle Group, one of the world's leading private equity firms, was confirmed by the MOD as the strategic partner to invest in QinetiQ as a stepping stone to its eventual flotation. It holds 31% with the MOD retaining a 56% stake and the balance with staff.
  • Building on its defence and security expertise, QinetiQ is now developing an impressive overseas customer base. As part of this process it has established a US based sales operation in Arlington to forge closer links with this potentially massive market. In September 2004 it also acquired the businesses of Foster-Miller Inc for 91.8m ($163m) and Westar Aerospace & Defense Group for 72.2m ($130m). Both are wholly-owned subsidiaries of QinetiQ North America but remain autonomous, retaining their names, core management teams, employees and US facilities.

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