Overcoming Boltzmann's Tyranny in a Transistor via the Topological Quantum Field Effect

Publication Name

Nano Letters


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.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian Government



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