Posts Tagged ‘atom

06
Dec
09

Single atom transistor. Whee!!

Researchers in Finland and Australia have submitted a research paper about their demonstration of a single-atom transistor. The report on Physorg.com says: “Researchers…have succeeded in building a working transistor, whose active region composes only of a single phosphorus atom in silicon.”

Why get excited about a geeky development like this?

I’ve made a big deal about how complex real world systems are such as a bacterium and the genetics of cancer and other bad diseases. The only way we’ll master them eventually is having more and more computing power for elaborate computer models and sensitive devices for looking deep within living things. To my mind these research reports are the early signals of progress forthcoming in development of electronic components, sensors, information storage and communication. These things are going to emerge in the not-too-distant-future.

The rapid development of computers, which created the present information society, has been mainly based on the reduction of the size of transistors. We have known for a long time that this development has to slow down critically during the future decades when the even tighter inexpensive packing of transistors would require them to shrink down to the atomic length scales.

These are not going to be transistors like we have in our laptops and mobiles; they’re going to be transistors for the next generation of computing: quantum computers. To be sure, there are enormous engineering challenges to getting to the next level, but there are frequent reports of developments like this one. It’ll happen and the impact will be great.

Unraveling the complexities of life processes and applying them to our day-to-day concerns is daunting. But developments like the single-atom transistor say to me that the forces of technology are converging to keep us moving ahead. We just need to persist.




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