Carbon-Based Nanoswitch Logic

By Stephen A. Campbell

Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

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The process of shrinking semiconductor devices employed for fifty years has almost reached its end. Fundamental limitations of the field effect device prevent much additional reduction in the supply voltage. This leads to unavoidable off-state leakage and very high operating power, an intolerable situation, especially for mobile applications. This is leading to radical changes in the roadmap, forecasting separate technologies for high performance, low operating power, and low standby power applications. Scaling will not provide significant performance improvements for the latter two. While research into novel devices is underway, progress has been much slower than one might like.

This talk discusses a rather surprising possibility: the use of carbon-based materials such as carbon nanotubes and grapheneto make nanomechanical switches with at least an order of magnitude lower power dissipation than the low power CMOS options and performance between the various CMOS technologies. It is the unusual properties of these materials that make possible such high performance, very low power digital logic. The technological barriers needed to realize such a technology will be discussed along with work that has been done to demonstrate possible solutions. The potential implications of such a technology will be discussed.


Stephen A. Campbell Stephen A. Campbell received a B.A. in physics from St. Thomas University and an M.S. and PhD in physics from Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois in 1977 and 1981, respectively. After a brief stint at Unisys where he worked on CMOS, he joined the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis Minnesota in 1986. He is on the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is directs the NanoFabricationCenter (, one of the NNIN nodes. He has about 200 refereed publications. His textbook, Fabrication Engineering at the Micro- and NanoscaleNew York: Oxford University Press, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2013 has been used in over 80 US schools as well as institutions in Europe and Asia. It has been translated into several languages. His work in the area of silicon process technology ultimately led to fundamental changes in the way that CMOS transistors are manufactured. More recently Professor Campbell has worked on carbon-based nanoelectromechanical devices (NEMS), silicon quantum dots, and thin film solar cells. Professor Campbell is a fellow of the IEEE, holds the Sanford P. and Lenore Edgerton BordeauChair in Electrical and Computer Engineering and is a Distinguished Professor in the University’s College of Science and Engineering

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  • Stephen A. Campbell (2013), "Carbon-Based Nanoswitch Logic,"

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