The mere fact that it operates at terahertz frequencies is a breakthrough. No standard transistors can amplify a radio signal in that range. Silicon chips aren't designed to operate in it. To get around those limitations, electrical engineering professor Ali Hajimiri and postdoc Kaushik Sengupta combined several transistors on one array, all operating in unison. When operating at the right frequencies, the transistors' collective power can be combined, boosting the signal's strength. In a Caltech news release, Hajimiri compared it to an army of ants hefting the same load as one elephant. "Nowadays we can make a very large number of transistors that individually are not very powerful, but when combined and working in unison, can do a lot more," he said.