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The Most Complex 2D Microchip Yet

This molybdenum disulfide microprocessor contains more than 100 transistors

3 min read
Photo: Stefan Wachter
Flat and Packed: The prototype processor consumes about 60 microwatts and contains 115 transistors. Its designers hope to integrate more.
Photo: Stefan Wachter

Scientists hope that two-dimensional materials such as graphene or molybdenum disulfide will allow Moore’s Law to continue apace once it becomes impossible to make further progress using silicon. A 3-atom-thick microchip developed by researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (VUT) may be the first example of 2D materials following the seemingly inexorable growth in the number of transistors in integrated circuits that Gordon Moore observed decades ago. Previously, the number of transistors on ICs made from 2D materials had remained in the single digits, says study senior author Thomas Müller­, an electrical engineer at VUT. The chip that he and his colleagues created boasts 115 transistors. They described their device on 11 April in the journal Nature.

The microchip can execute user-defined programs stored in external memory, perform logic operations, and transmit data to its periphery. Although this prototype operates on single-bit data, the researchers say their design is readily scalable to multibit data. They also note their invention is compatible with existing semiconductor manufacturing processes.

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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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