Nanotech takes aim at transistors
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  1. #1
    AO Guinness Monster MURACU's Avatar
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    Nanotech takes aim at transistors

    Here is an interesting news artical I found on the possiable future of computers. I remember reading sometime back about one of the first pratical experiments of nanothecnology where they line up carbon atoms, i think, to spell out "hello world". So what do you think would be the most exciting way for computers to evolve?

    bbc source

    Nanotech takes aim at transistors

    Scientists continue to find alternatives to silicon
    US scientists have made nano-scale devices they claim could one day replace current transistor technology.
    The tiny devices, "crossbar latches", are made up of a combination of crossed-over platinum wires with steric acid molecules set at their junctions.

    The Hewlett Packard researchers said they could potentially do a better job than present transistors, dramatically improving the performance of computers.
    The HP team reports its findings in the Journal of Applied Physics.

    Transistors are the switches that make electronics work, and have always been considered the primary building blocks of computers.
    Today, the fine control of silicon allows millions of transistors to be fitted on to a chip no bigger than a fingernail - but this technology is reaching its limits.

    Smaller space

    The research from the scientists at HP Labs' Quantum Science Research (QSR) Unit offers crossbar latches as an alternative.

    "We are reinventing the computer at the molecular scale," said Stan Williams, one of the researchers based at HP's labs in Paolo Alto.
    "The crossbar latch provides a key element needed for building a computer using nanometre-sized devices that are relatively inexpensive and easy to build."

    Professor Philip Moriarty, nanoscience expert at the University of Nottingham, UK, told the BBC News website that it was "extremely interesting research" and that it was quite a leap forward in molecular electronics.
    "HP's attempts are the best to date in trying to come up with a plausible architecture for molecular electronics," he added.
    He added: "The important thing is when they combine this with diodes or resistors, they can, in principle, do universal computing which means they can in theory implement any computer algorithm," he said.

    The wire grid that makes up crossbar latches is criss-crossed - where two wires cross, there is a switch.
    Like a standard transistor, the structure can manipulate an electrical signal that passes through the crossbar latch.

    Conventional transistors rely on the semi-conducting characteristics of silicon, which provide the switches that control the flow of current in a circuit.
    The tiniest features of transistors that are based on silicon now are about 90 nanometres (billionths of a metre) in size.
    That is about 100,000 smaller than the width of human hair. But the crossbar latch method works in a space of about two to three nanometres.
    This means it can work at much smaller scales and perform more functions.

    The sticking points for the technology which have to be worked out are the lifetime of the devices, and their switching speed.
    Currently, the devices only work for hundreds of computing cycles, and switching speed is many thousands of times slower than silicon technology, comments Professor Moriarty.

    Long way yet

    The current method for making faster silicon chips is expected to reach a technical dead-end in about a decade.
    This process relies on laser light to etch a circuit layout on to silicon wafers. Chemical washes then cut out spaces according to this template, making channels that will be filled to make the circuit features - transistors, and the like.

    Silicon-based technology has its limits
    But this lithographic approach will find it increasingly difficult to focus the laser light at ever smaller small scales.
    At the end of 2003, IBM demonstrated its alternative method for microchip fabrication which used polymer molecules that naturally arranged themselves into hexagonal patterns.

    Other firms and research labs worldwide have also been looking at novel ways to fit more features on to computer chips.
    Some have considered building the transistors themselves at the molecular level, but this is a much bigger challenge for physicists.

    "As we continue to shrink silicon down, we will a reach point where an effect called tunnelling happens, where instead of controlling where electrons sit, they will tunnel through any barrier," explained Professor Moriarty.

    The size barrier can be overcome through molecular electronics. The HP researchers said that their technology was still some way off in terms of widespread use and would not be commercially viable until about 2012.
    For now, they hope to be able to glue lots of crossbar latches together so that multiple functions can be performed.
    But this kind of technology would eventually replace transistors, just as they replaced vacuum tubes and vacuum tubes replaced electromagnetic relays, said the HP team.
    \"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.\"
    \"The reason we are so pleased to find other people\'s secrets is that it distracts public attention from our own.\"
    Oscar Wilde(1854-1900)

  2. #2
    ********** |ceWriterguy
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    Good article Muracu! The game's afoot!

    comments Professor Moriarty
    sorry, just had to wax Sherlock there...

    I'm curious as to exactly how small they'll be making CPU's after this tech becomes better developed, and what superconductive/superinsulative materials they'll use to counteract the tunnelling effect...
    Even a broken watch is correct twice a day.

    Which coder said that nobody could outcode Microsoft in their own OS? Write a bit and make a fortune!

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    AO Guinness Monster MURACU's Avatar
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    Lol I totally missed the name of the proffessor. Now we know what happens to super villians when they die they go work for different universitys .
    It does bring up the question what will the next generation of computers be and what it will mean for how we interact with our computers.
    At the moment nanotechnology looks to be the most likely to succeed. Still it is not the only possiability I remember all the talk about the possabilitys of neural style computers and also quantum computers. It is true that without the developpement of new materials we can not go much futher with the present technology.
    \"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.\"
    \"The reason we are so pleased to find other people\'s secrets is that it distracts public attention from our own.\"
    Oscar Wilde(1854-1900)

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    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    They have working neural computers using pieces of rat brain. To be frank.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    remember all the talk about the possabilitys of neural style computers
    I remembered where I saw the rat brain computer. Discover magazine

    Web link

    They thing is controlling a piece of flight sim software.
    West of House
    You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
    There is a small mailbox here.

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