Power to the Molecules

A "crossbar latch" supplies the missing piece for a nanosize alternative to the transistor

3 min read

Sometime in the next 15 years, the laws of physics decree that the transistor will finally stop shrinking, and when it does, engineers will need an alternative. Recent advances seem to improve the odds for a possible successor, a nanometer-size switch under development at Hewlett-Packard Co., in Palo Alto, Calif.

HP has been studying the switch for some years and has already built it into experimental memory and logic circuits. But only now have its researchers found a way to give the switch "gain"--the power to amplify a signal. This power is one of the great features of transistors, because it allows a signal to pass through a circuit without petering out.

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The State of the Transistor in 3 Charts

In 75 years, it’s become tiny, mighty, ubiquitous, and just plain weird

3 min read
A photo of 3 different transistors.
iStockphoto
LightGreen

The most obvious change in transistor technology in the last 75 years has been just how many we can make. Reducing the size of the device has been a titanic effort and a fantastically successful one, as these charts show. But size isn’t the only feature engineers have been improving.

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