Scientists have succeeded in creating the world’s smallest transistor, producing a switch with a working 1-nanometre gate. If you want to know how incredibly tiny that is, a human hair is around 80,000 to 100,000 nanometres wide.
Unlike regular transistors, the researchers’ new prototype isn’t made out of silicon – and the smaller size means we can still improve performance in integrated circuits by populating them with greater amounts of incredibly small components.
And it could help us keep Moore’s Law alive too.
Named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, Moore’s Law predicts that the amount of transistors in an integrated circuit will double approximately every two years, enabling more complex and powerful computer processors.
Unfortunately, transistors have already gotten so small, we’re running out of ways to make them smaller. But now, thanks to a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, we’ve gotten past the 5-nanometre threshold that was previously considered to be the peak of transistor miniaturisation.
“We made the smallest transistor reported to date,” says researcher Ali Javey, the head of Berkeley Lab’s Materials Science Division. “We demonstrated a 1-nanometre-gate transistor, showing that with the choice of proper materials, there is a lot more room to shrink our electronics.”
Javey’s team was able to hit the 1-nanometre limit by using carbon nanotubes with a material called molybdenum disulphide (MoS2), which is sometimes used as an engine lubricant.
In conventional (read: bigger) transistors, silicon is an ideal material, because electrons flowing through the circuitry encounter low amounts of resistance.
Source: Scientists just developed the world’s smallest transistor – ScienceAlert