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The Good and Bad of Nanotech Reported Nearly Simultaneously

The benefits and risks surrounding nanotechnology seem to be speeding it towards regulation

1 min read

The dichotomy that is nanotech was made manifest in two separate reports of research findings this week.

BIND Biosciences, a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is reported to be beginning clinical trials on the use of a nanoparticle to deliver chemotherapy drugs through the body directly targeting tumors.

It was also reported in Nature Nanotechnology that researchers at the Bristol Implant Research Centre, UK have determined that high doses of nanoparticles can affect the DNA molecules on the other side of a cellular barrier without actually crossing the barrier. 20/20 Science has a good examination of the research and its impact.

But if ever there were an example of how the risks of nanoparticles need to be balanced against their benefits, this would be it. Improved cancer treatments are a much different factor than improved insulation materials for heating pipes as we had with asbestos.

It is not yet definitively clear that the nanoparticles are a threat or a benefit in these two instances. But we seem to be coming to the crossroads at which nanotech will pose some risks and promise some great benefits, for this reason we will need to find regulations that minimize one while maximizing the other.

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3D-Stacked CMOS Takes Moore’s Law to New Heights

When transistors can’t get any smaller, the only direction is up

10 min read
An image of stacked squares with yellow flat bars through them.
Emily Cooper

Perhaps the most far-reaching technological achievement over the last 50 years has been the steady march toward ever smaller transistors, fitting them more tightly together, and reducing their power consumption. And yet, ever since the two of us started our careers at Intel more than 20 years ago, we’ve been hearing the alarms that the descent into the infinitesimal was about to end. Yet year after year, brilliant new innovations continue to propel the semiconductor industry further.

Along this journey, we engineers had to change the transistor’s architecture as we continued to scale down area and power consumption while boosting performance. The “planar” transistor designs that took us through the last half of the 20th century gave way to 3D fin-shaped devices by the first half of the 2010s. Now, these too have an end date in sight, with a new gate-all-around (GAA) structure rolling into production soon. But we have to look even further ahead because our ability to scale down even this new transistor architecture, which we call RibbonFET, has its limits.

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