Researchers from the University of Florida and Texas Instruments have developed a high-frequency circuit made with a common CMOS transistor. The circuit is expected to find its way into environmental monitoring equipment to detect pollution, noxious gases or bioterrorism agents. It can also be used in medical equipment to facilitate early detection of skin and other cancers, and in industrial systems that monitor the coatings on pills to ensure they have proper thickness and uniformity.

The breakthrough was presented by University of Florida and Texas Instruments engineers at the recent International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. University of Florida professor of electrical and computer engineering Ken O, the project's lead researcher, said his team had demonstrated a 410-gigahertz circuit using CMOS (complementary-symmetry metal-oxide-semiconductor), the technology long deployed in personal computers, cell phones and handheld electronic devices. Texas Instruments uses a 45-nanometer CMOS process to manufacture the circuit.

The 410 gigahertz frequency eclipses the previous record for CMOS circuits set in February 2006 by 200 gigahertz, and is 60 gigahertz higher than the previous record set using costlier indium phosphide. "This is probably the first time in 30 years that a silicon-based circuit has been shown to have a higher operating frequency than one based on indium phosphide and similar compounds," O said.

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