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Start-up Seeks New Life for Planar Transistors

SuVolta is pursuing precision doping in its bid to compete with 3-D transistor technology

5 min read
Start-up Seeks New Life for Planar Transistors

7 December 2011—After years of doping, straining, shrinking, and tweaking, engineers seem to have exhausted all their strategies for improving the planar complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) transistors at the heart of today’s computer processors. Producers of cutting-edge chips are now resorting to new structures—building up in three dimensions or constructing transistors in ultrathin layers of silicon—to ensure that devices keep shrinking and that Moore’s Law keeps going just a bit longer.

But semiconductor start-up SuVolta is betting that the traditional planar structure still has some life in it and that it can go toe-to-toe with the new alternative designs. The firm hopes to build a business licensing a technology it says will reduce power consumption and boost performance with minimal changes to the way transistors are made.

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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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