Friday, February 20, 2009

Nano-sized Etch A Sketch Created at Pitt

University of Pittsburgh researchers say they have found a way to create a two nanometer wide path that will channel single electrons from point A to point B. Researcher Jeremy Levy says the process creates the transistors by swapping insulators and conductors. He says it works like a microscopic Etch A Sketch. Levy says that childhood toy served as an inspiration for his efforts. The process is still in the early stages but levy says it could have a huge impact on electronics. He notes everything is getting smaller but at some point silicon “peters out.” He says this could answer the question, “Where do we go after that?” Along with creating nono-sized transistors, the technology could be used to create high-density memory devices and computer processors. The findings were published this week in “Science.” Levy says it illustrates that the potential of this process extends beyond simple insulators and conductors. It can be tailored to specific uses, most notably field-effect transistors (FETs), the building blocks of computers and electronics. From that idea Levy and his colleagues fashioned a transistor they call a “SketchFET.” Levy says now researchers need to see if they can keep power consumption low enough to not burn up the new products that could be created using this technology. He says this could also become very environmentally friendly because of the low power usage.

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