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Transistors Go Vertical

The semiconductor industry fights silicon sprawl by building up, not out

5 min read

Through all the decades of microchip evolution one thing has remained constant: the silicon transistors of which they're made are basically flat. But that is very likely to change in the next five years. The semiconductor industry is facing a problem that can be solved only with a fundamental transistor redesign. Transistors are no longer the clean on-off switches they once were; instead, current leaks through them even when they are supposed to be off. As transistors shrink with each new generation of microchip, this errant current increases, draining batteries and heating chips up.

Major chip manufacturers will show off their latest proposed solutions from 10 to 12 December at IEEE's International Electron Devices Meeting, in Washington, D.C. What many of these experimental transistors have in common is that they are decidedly not flat.

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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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