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Laser Makes Memory Mechanical

Chip-level device can record 1s and 0s in the bend of a silicon strip

3 min read

24 October 2011—Engineers at Yale University say they’ve invented a new type of mechanical memory device that is read from and written to by light. According to its creators, this development could lead to better sensors and new techniques in optical telecommunications.

The device is essentially a tiny piece of silicon that can be bent up or down by the light propagating inside a photonic circuit. Once the light is switched off, the piece remains in one of those states, representing the 1s and 0s of digital coding. The engineers from Yale who developed the device, which is called a "nanomechanical resonator," described it yesterday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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