Introducing the Vacuum Transistor: A Device Made of Nothing

This curious mash-up of vacuum tube and MOSFET could one day replace traditional silicon

11 min read
Illustration: Chad Hagen
Illustration: Chad Hagen

In September 1976, in the midst of the Cold War, Victor Ivanovich Belenko, a disgruntled Soviet pilot, veered off course from a training flight over Siberia in his MiG-25 Foxbat, flew low and fast across the Sea of Japan, and landed the plane at a civilian airport in Hokkaido with just 30 seconds of fuel remaining. His dramatic defection was a boon for U.S. military analysts, who for the first time had an opportunity to examine up close this high-speed Soviet fighter, which they had thought to be one of the world’s most capable aircraft. What they discovered astonished them.

For one thing, the airframe was more crudely built than those of contemporary U.S. fighters, being made mostly of steel rather than titanium. What’s more, they found the plane’s avionics bays to be filled with equipment based on vacuum tubes rather than transistors. The obvious conclusion, previous fears aside, was that even the Soviet Union’s most cutting-edge technology lagged laughably behind the West’s.

Keep reading... Show less

Stay ahead of the latest trends in technology. Become an IEEE member.

This article is for IEEE members only. Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Carbon-Removal Tech Grabs Elon Musk’s Check

Millions poured into XPrize effort to pull CO2 out of the sky

7 min read
A computer rendering showing Project Hajar sited in the Al Hajar mountains in Oman, capturing 1000 tons/year of CO2.

London’s Mission Zero Technologies has developed an energy-efficient way of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequestering it into the dominant rock (peridotites) of the upper part of the Earth’s mantle.

mission zero/44.01

Stretching across the northern coasts of Oman and the United Arab Emirates loom the vast jagged peaks of the Al Hajar mountains. The craggy outcrops are made mostly of a rock called peridotite, which absorbs carbon dioxide from the air and turns it into solid minerals. The mountains could store trillions of tonnes of human-made CO2 emissions, but the natural carbon-mineralization process works at a glacial pace.

London startup 44.01 has found a way to speed it up. For this endeavor, 44.01 is teaming up with another London startup, Mission Zero Technologies, which has developed an energy-efficient method to capture CO2 from air. Called Project Hajar, it plans to pull 1,000 tonnes of CO2/year from air at a demonstration facility in Oman, injecting some 3–4 tonnes/day into the peridotite rocks. A 120 tonne-capacity pilot plant will come online in the first half of 2023.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

What Is Wi-Fi 7?

Great capacity, less latency—here's how IEEE 802.11be achieves both

4 min read
A purple circle with the number 7 in the middle. Curved purple lines radiate out from the circle to the left and right.
Shutterstock

New generations of Wi-Fi have sprung onto the scene at a rapid pace in recent years. After a storied five-year presence, Wi-Fi 5 was usurped in 2019 by Wi-Fi 6, only for the latter to be toppled a year later in 2020 by an intermediate generation, Wi-Fi 6E. And now, just a couple years later, we’re on the verge of Wi-Fi 7.

Wi-Fi 7 (the official IEEE standard is 802.11be) may only give Wi-Fi 6 a scant few years in the spotlight, but it’s not just an upgrade for the sake of an upgrade. Several new technologies—and some that debuted in Wi-Fi 6E but haven’t entirely yet come into their own—will allow Wi-Fi 7 routers and devices to make full use of an entirely new band of spectrum at 6 gigahertz. This spectrum—first tapped into with Wi-Fi 6E—adds a third wireless band alongside the more familiar 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz bands.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Writing UVM/SystemVerilog Testbenches for Analog/Mixed-Signal Verification

Join this webinar on how to write a UVM testbench for analog/mixed-signal circuits

1 min read
Learn how to write reusable SystemVerilog testbenches for analog/mixed-signal IPs, using standardized UVM components and Scientific Analog's XMODEL! Register for this free webinar now!
Keep Reading ↓ Show less