Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor is the name of a manufacturing technology used for constructing the image sensors used in digital cameras. CMOS technology is also used in building microprocessors, microcontrollers, static RAM, and other digital logic circuits.
Frank Wanlass patented CMOS in 1967 (US patent 3,356,858) while working for Fairchild Semiconductor.
CMOS is also sometimes referred to as complementary-symmetry metal-oxide-semiconductor (COS-MOS). The words "complementary-symmetry" refer to the typical design style with CMOS using complementary and symmetrical pairs of p-type and n-type metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) for logic functions.
Two important characteristics of CMOS devices are high noise immunity and low static power consumption. Since one transistor of the 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, for example, transistor-transistor logic (TTL) or N-type metal-oxide-semiconductor logic (NMOS) logic, which normally have some standing current even when not changing state. CMOS also allows a high density of logic functions on a chip. It was primarily for this reason that CMOS became the most used technology to be implemented in very-large-scale integration (VLSI) chips.
The phrase "metal–oxide–semiconductor" is a reference to the physical structure of certain field-effect transistors, having a metal gate electrode placed on top of an oxide insulator, which in turn is on top of semiconductor material. Aluminum 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.
"CMOS" refers to both a particular style of digital circuitry design and the family of processes used to implement that circuitry on integrated circuits (chips). CMOS circuitry dissipates less power than logic families with resistive loads. Since this advantage has increased and grown more important, CMOS processes and variants have come to dominate, thus the vast majority of modern integrated circuit manufacturing is on CMOS processes. As of 2010, CPUs with the best performance per watt each year have been CMOS static logic since 1976.
CMOS circuits use a combination of p-type and n-type metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) to implement logic gates and other digital circuits. Although CMOS logic can be implemented with discrete devices for demonstrations, commercial CMOS products are integrated circuits composed of up to billions of transistors of both types, on a rectangular piece of silicon of between 10 and 400 mm2.
CMOS always uses all enhancement-mode MOSFETs (in other words, a zero gate-to-source voltage turns the transistor off).