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We present a compact model based on the Landauer transmission theory for the silicon quantum wire and quantum well metal-oxide-semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET) working in the ballistic limit. This model captures the static current-voltage characteristics in all the operation regimes, below and above threshold voltage. The model provides a basic framework to account for the electronic transport in MOSFETs, being easily adaptable to gate structures such as the double-gate or gate-all-around. Numerical simulations based on the proposed model have been compared with experiments and quantum mechanical self-consistent simulations, with good agreement. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.