The smallest transistor ever built — probably the smallest that can ever be built — uses a single phosphorus atom, in a breakthrough that could be one more step on the path toward functional quantum computers. Single atoms have served as transistors in other studies, but this is the first time researchers were able to engineer its location and apply a voltage in a controlled fashion.
In a move that could remake the microchip industry, Intel announced Wednesday it will start mass-producing the first three-dimensional silicon transistors. The 3-D transistor design, which Intel says will improve efficiency by more than one-third, will be integrated into a 22-nanometer node in an Intel chip called Ivy Bridge.
Even with great strides being made regularly in the realms of nanotech and materials science, Moore's Law – the notion that the number of transistors that can be placed on a given integrated circuit doubles every 18-24 months – has for several years been bearing down on engineers who have shrunk conventional chip technology about as far as material limitations will let them.
Miniaturization has been no small force driving computer technology forward over the past five decades, and a group of Australian researchers has proved just how small they think they can go. Using just seven atoms, scientists at the University of New South Wales working with researchers at the U. of Wisconsin have carefully constructed a quantum dot transistor, the smallest deliberately built electronic device in the world.
Transistor junction, what's your function now? Irish researchers at the Tyndall National Institute have fabricated the world's first junctionless transistor, a nanotech development that could change the way semiconductors are manufactured.
Silicon wafers. Quantum computing. Light-based processors. Any way you slice it, scientists say that processor speeds will absolutely max out at a certain point, regardless of how hardware or software are implemented.
Lev Levitin and Tommaso Toffoli, two researchers at Boston University, devised an equation which sets a fundamental limit for quantum computing speeds. According to their studies, a perfect quantum computer can generate 10 quadrillion more operations per second than fastest current processors. They estimate that the maximum speed will be reached in 75 years.
Despite the optimism of Moore's Law, scientists predict computer chips have just four more years of shrinkage
By Matt RansfordPosted 03.31.2008 at 3:58 pm 4 Comments
About every two years, transistors shrink in size enough to place double the number on an integrated circuit than was possible during the previous two years. Its held true since the mid-1960s when the idea was first posited by Gordon E. Moore (today, its called Moores Law). If you were to plot the rate on a graph, youd see it come out as an exponential curve. Exponential curves start slowly and then ramp up quickly, theoretically approaching a limit but never reaching it. I say theoretically because in the very practical real world, a limit will always be reached due to environmental feedback. In silicon-based computing (what we use today), that limit may be only four years away.