Tunnelling-based ternary metal–oxide–semiconductor technology

Jae Won Jeong, Young Eun Choi, Woo Seok Kim, Jee Ho Park, Sunmean Kim, Sunhae Shin, Kyuho Lee, Jiwon Chang, Seong Jin Kim, Kyung Rok Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


The power density limits of complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) technology could be overcome by moving from a binary to a ternary logic system. However, ternary devices are typically based on multi-threshold voltage schemes, which make the development of power-scalable and mass-producible ternary device platforms challenging. Here we report a wafer-scale and energy-efficient ternary CMOS technology. Our approach is based on a single threshold voltage and relies on a third voltage state created using an off-state constant current that originates from quantum-mechanical band-to-band tunnelling. This constant current can be scaled down to a sub-picoampere level under a low applied voltage of 0.5 V. Analysis of a ternary CMOS inverter illustrates the variation tolerance of the third intermediate output voltage state, and its symmetric in–out voltage-transfer characteristics allow integrated circuits with ternary logic and memory latch-cell functions to be demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-312
Number of pages6
JournalNature Electronics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jul 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Samsung Research Funding & Incubation Center of Samsung Electronics under project number SRFC-TA1703-07 and by the U-K Brand Research Fund (1.180037.01) of UNIST (Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology). The authors are grateful to foundry support for 130-nm and 90-nm CMOS technology processes.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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