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Researchers are working on a vacuum channel transistor that can combines the best traits o...

Most people associate vacuum tubes with a time when a single computer took up several rooms and "debugging" meant removing the insects stuck in the valves, but this technology may be in for a resurgence with news that researchers at NASA and the National Nanofab Center in South Korea are working on a miniaturized "vacuum channel transistor" - a best-of-both-worlds device that could find application in space and high-radiation environments.  Read More

TAU researchers have created a new transistor using blood, milk and mucus proteins (Image:...

In a bid to develop a transistor that didn’t need to be created in a “top down” approach” as is the case with silicon-based transistors, researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) turned to blood, milk and mucus proteins. The result is protein-based transistors the researchers say could form the basis of a new generation of electronic devices that are both flexible and biodegradable.  Read More

2011 - a year in technology

We cast a wide net over all types of new and emerging technologies here at - some save us time, some keep us connected, some help us stay healthy and some are just plain fun, but at the core of what we cover are those discoveries and innovations which have the potential to impact the fortunes of the human race as a whole and make a difference to the future of our planet. So with the calender having rolled over into another year, it's an ideal time to take a look back at some of the most significant and far-reaching breakthroughs that we saw during 2011.  Read More

A diagram of a three-dimensional indium-gallium-arsenide transistor (Image: Peter Ye, Purd...

Starting next year, computers will be available with three-dimensional transistors – these will incorporate vertical components, unlike the flat chips that we’re used to seeing. This structure will allow them to have shorter gates, which are the components that allow the transistors to switch the electrical current on and off, and to direct its flow. The shorter the gate, the faster the computer can operate. While the new 3D transistors will have a gate length of 22 nanometers, as opposed to the present length of about 45, the use of silicon as a construction material limits how much shorter they could ultimately get. That’s why scientists from Purdue and Harvard universities have created prototype 3D transistors made out of indium-gallium-arsenide – the same compound recently used in a record-breaking solar cell.  Read More

The world's first molybdenite microchip has been successfully tested in Switzerland.

Back in February, Darren Quick wrote about the unique properties of Molybdenite and how this material, previously used mostly as a lubricant, could actually outshine silicon in the construction of transistors and other electronic circuits. In brief: it's much more energy efficient than silicon, and you can slice it into strips just three atoms thick - meaning that you can make transistors as much as three times smaller than before, and make them flexible to boot. Well, the technology has now been proven with the successful testing of the world's first molybdenite microchip in Switzerland. Does this mean Lausanne will become known as "Molybdenite Valley?"  Read More

Squids have provided the key ingredient for a proton-conducting transistor, that may allow...

When it comes to sending and receiving information, man-made devices utilize negatively-charged particles commonly known as electrons. Biological systems such as human bodies, on the other hand, use protons via positively charged hydrogen atoms or ions. This would indicate that there is something of a language barrier, when we try to develop electronic devices that can communicate with living systems. That barrier could be on its way down, however, as scientists from the University of Washington have developed a transistor that can conduct pulses of protons - and they've done it with some help from our friends the cephalopods.  Read More

Intel's 3-D transistors to keep pace with Moore's Law

NASA, the double-helix model, Elvis ... there's a long list of things that emerged during the 1950s which still resonate strongly in 2011, but none more so than the humble silicon transistor. Transistors are the bricks with which the shiny house of modern consumer electronics has been built, but for more than 50 years these bricks have been limited to two dimensions. Now there's a third. Intel has announced that it is putting its revolutionary Tri-Gate 3-D transistor into mass production. The first 22nm microprocessor (codenamed Ivy Bridge) to use the transistors will be rolled-out later this year, delivering huge gains in performance and efficiency compared with chips that use current 2-D planar transistors and helping keep pace with Moore's Law.  Read More

Graphene is a one-atom-thick planar sheet of carbon atoms that are densely packed in a hon...

Graphene has already brought us the world’s smallest transistor, a triple-mode, single transistor amplifier and a supercapacitor that can store as much energy as a battery while recharging in seconds. And these are sure to just be the tip of the iceberg. The latest breakthrough from the wonderful world of graphene is a new graphene field effect transistor (GFET) that boasts a record high-switching performance. The device promises improved performance for future electronic devices and means graphene could potentially replace silicon, or at least be used side by side with silicon, in electronic devices.  Read More

Molybdenite could be used to make smaller and more energy efficient transistors

Researchers have uncovered a material that they say has distinct advantages over traditional silicon and even graphene for use in electronics. Called molybdenite (MoS2), this mineral is abundant in nature and is commonly used as an element in steel alloys or, thanks to its similarity in appearance and feel to graphite, as an additive in lubricant. But the mineral hadn’t been studied for use in electronics, which appears to have been an oversight with new research showing that molybdenite is a very effective semiconductor that could enable smaller and more energy efficient transistors, computer chips and solar cells.  Read More

The MPQ/EPFL microresonator, which couples light with vibrations (Photo: EPFL)

Researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) and the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created a microresonator that produces vibrations from laser light. The device also uses one laser beam to control the intensity of another, thus making it essentially an optical transistor. The technology could have big implications in fields such as telecommunications.  Read More

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