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Changing the Transistor Channel

Ending silicon’s central role in transistors could maintain the march of Moore’s Law

12 min read
Changing the Transistor Channel
Illustration: Harry Campbell

The transistor isn’t shrinking the way it used to. The best ones we have today are a patchwork of fixes and kludges: speed-boosting materials that push or pull on the silicon center, exotic insulators added to stanch leaks, and a new geometry that pops things out of the plane of the chip and into the third dimension. Now, to keep Moore’s Law going, chipmakers are eyeing another monumental change in transistor architecture.

This time, they’re taking aim at the current-carrying channels at the very heart of the device, replacing the silicon there with germanium and compound semiconductors known as III-Vs. If all goes well, these materials could usher in a new generation of speedier, less power-hungry transistors, allowing for denser, faster, cooler-running chips.

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New Filter Doubles Nuclear Fuel Extractable from Seawater

It pulls uranium out at record rates—but real-world tests are still to come

3 min read
illustration of a blue stream of water traveling diagonally to the lower left, intersecting with a white filter membrane substance with yellow and red atomic stick models floating around in the upper half of the image
Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences/Nature Sustainability

The International Atomic Energy Agency expects nuclear power to grow significantly in the coming decades, by up to 82 percent by the year 2050. That would create an increase in demand for uranium that reserves on land may not be able to meet.

But the world’s oceans, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, contain at least 500 times more uranium than in all known terrestrial reserves. That equates to more than 4.5 billion metric tons of the element in seawater, albeit present at an extremely dilute concentration of 3.3 parts per billion, and scientists have been trying to find efficient ways to extract it.

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Video Friday: Guitar Bot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
Closeup of a robotic arm strumming an acoustic guitar

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRA 2022: 23–27 May 2022, Philadelphia
ERF 2022: 28–30 June 2022, Rotterdam, Germany
CLAWAR 2022: 12–14 September 2022, Açores, Portugal

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.

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Design for Functional Safety & Reliability with new FMEDA Database

Component Reliability Database drives efficiency and accuracy in FMEDA results

1 min read
Design for Functional Safety & Reliability with new FMEDA Database

Failure Modes, Effects, and Diagnostics Analysis (FMEDA) is popular for predicting safety and reliability during design. FMEDA results, however, are only as good as the failure rate data used in the calculations. A new component reliability database (CRD) improves accuracy, reduces engineering, identifies unforeseen failure modes, and enables better decision-making.