Overcoming Boltzmann's Tyranny in a Transistor via the Topological Quantum Field Effect
The subthreshold swing is the critical parameter determining the operation of a transistor in low-power applications such as switches. It determines the fraction of dissipation due to the gate capacitance used for turning the device on and off, and in a conventional transistor it is limited by Boltzmann's tyranny to kBT ln(10)/q. Here, we demonstrate that the subthreshold swing of a topological transistor in which conduction is enabled by a topological phase transition via electric field switching, can be sizably reduced in a noninteracting system by modulating the Rashba spin-orbit interaction. By developing a theoretical framework for quantum spin Hall materials with honeycomb lattices, we show that the Rashba interaction can reduce the subthreshold swing by more than 25% compared to Boltzmann's limit in currently available materials but without any fundamental lower bound, a discovery that can guide future material design and steer the engineering of topological quantum devices.
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