The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Transistors in Space

NASA tests new radiation-proof chips

2 min read

Mission planners for future flights to the moon, Mars, and beyond rightly worry about how to keep astronauts safe from the hazards of high-energy protons, neutrons, and ions streaming through space. These particles can cause cancer and brain damage, but they can be just as damaging to a spacecraft's electronics.

NASA is now testing how well a new type of transistor, shown to be radiation-resistant on Earth, will hold up in space. The transistors went up on the space shuttle Endeavor , and astronauts placed them in a test setup on the outside of the International Space Station on 22 March. After a year, researchers will check how radiation affects the transistors' operating voltages and currents.

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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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