Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS, pronounced "see-moss"), also known as complementary-symmetry metal–oxide–semiconductor (COS-MOS), is a type of metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) fabrication process that uses complementary and symmetrical pairs of p-type and n-type MOSFETs for logic functions. CMOS technology is used for constructing integrated circuit (IC) chips, including microprocessors, microcontrollers, memory chips (including CMOS BIOS), and other digital logic circuits. CMOS technology is also used for analog circuits such as image sensors (CMOS sensors), data converters, RF circuits (RF CMOS), and highly integrated transceivers for many types of communication.
Mohamed M. Atalla and Dawon Kahng invented the MOSFET at Bell Labs in 1959, and then demonstrated the PMOS (p-type MOS) and NMOS (n-type MOS) fabrication processes in 1960. These processes were later combined and adapted into the complementary MOS (CMOS) process by Chih-Tang Sah and Frank Wanlass at Fairchild Semiconductor in 1963. RCA commercialized the technology with the trademark "COS-MOS" in the late 1960s, forcing other manufacturers to find another name, leading to "CMOS" becoming the standard name for the technology by the early 1970s. CMOS eventually overtook NMOS as the dominant MOSFET fabrication process for very large-scale integration (VLSI) chips in the 1980s, while also replacing earlier transistor–transistor logic (TTL) technology. CMOS has since remained the standard fabrication process for MOSFET semiconductor devices in VLSI chips. As of 2011[update], 99% of IC chips, including most digital, analog and mixed-signal ICs, are fabricated using CMOS technology.
Two important characteristics of CMOS devices are high noise immunity and low static power consumption. Since one transistor of the MOSFET pair is always off, the series combination draws significant power only momentarily during switching between on and off states. Consequently, CMOS devices do not produce as much waste heat as other forms of logic, like NMOS logic or transistor–transistor logic (TTL), which normally have some standing current even when not changing state. These characteristics allow CMOS to integrate a high density of logic functions on a chip. It was primarily for this reason that CMOS became the most widely used technology to be implemented in VLSI chips.
The phrase "metal–oxide–semiconductor" is a reference to the physical structure of MOS field-effect transistors, having a metal gate electrode placed on top of an oxide insulator, which in turn is on top of a semiconductor material. Aluminium was once used but now the material is polysilicon. Other metal gates have made a comeback with the advent of high-κ dielectric materials in the CMOS process, as announced by IBM and Intel for the 45 nanometer node and smaller sizes.