Speed is everything in the movement of electrons. Silicon, with its limitations, is becoming old-hat while metal-insular-metal, or MIM diodes, are potentially the future in electronics applications. The benefits are the holy grail of technology: faster, lower power, and cooler running electronics.

The Metal-Insular-Metal Diode (MIM) construction

Researchers claim they have proof that MIM Diodes can be fabricated with ease. Staff and students at the College of Engineering at Oregon State University have been scratching their heads. Led by John F. Conley, Jr., a professor in the OSU School, the group perfected a better method for "quantum tunneling". Quantum tunneling offers advantages over traditional current flow, in which electrons jump across device barriers rather than traversing through them. Traditional tunneling diodes were restricted to use in discrete devices.

Illustration of MIIM (metal-insulator-insulator-metal) diode

Conley?s group went one step further in their latest developments. The new diodes have two metals with two insulators in between and are called MIIM devices. Electrons now don?t move through materials, but tunnel through insulators and come out immediately on the other side. The quantum tunneling metal-insulator-insulator-metal (MIIM) diode, is not based on semiconductors. This process is said to be a fundamentally different approach to electronics. Another benefit of MIIM diodes is they can be cheaply manufactured on a very large scale using inexpensive and environmentally friendly materials.

Conley says: ?It gives us another way to engineer quantum mechanical tunneling and moves us closer to the real applications that should be possible with this technology.? MIIM diodes could result in more sophisticated microelectronic products such as improved liquid crystal displays, cell phones and TVs, as well as extremely high-speed computers that don?t depend on transistors.