A team from Australia has discovered a way to channel electrons through small gaps of air. Their new method could help further miniaturize electronics, staving off criticism of Moores law by removing silicon semiconductors as a requirement for conducting electricity.
Xinhua quoted lead author Shruti Nirantar from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology as saying.
“Every computer and phone has millions to billions of electronic transistors made from silicon, but this technology is reaching its physical limits where the silicon atoms get in the way of the current flow, limiting speed and causing heat,” Nirantar said.
Nirantar is referring to a recent slow down of momentum in computer processing power that you would otherwise expect to double each year based on Moores Law, a mathematical calculation depicting computers, robotics and artificial intelligence as a never-ending cycle of multiplication. His team believes that air based circuits are the solution to this recent lackluster progress.
“Our air channel transistor technology has the current flowing through air, so there are no collisions to slow it down and no resistance in the material to produce heat,” she added.
In their study they passed electrons through are gaps that were an incredible 50,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The team claims that their set up is entirely compatible with current industrial and manufacturing processes. Furthermore, applications may also include fabrication of “nano-satellites.” Like nanorobots, satellites would operate at the nano-scale, performing similar functions in orbit that normal satellites do. Introduction of nano-satellites, just like nano-robots can of course be dangerous in the wrong hands so it’s important that scientists take that into consideration before selling their intellectual copyright.
Although the team believes that air circuits could extend Moores Law “by another two decades” it’s more likely that quantum computers will beat them to it. Since quantum technology can communicate simultaneously across space and time using entangled particles, any miniaturization gleaned from the introduction air circuits would likely be negligible in comparison. The catch is that temperatures close to absolute zero are required for quantum computation, so that takes a lot of energy from an outside source, which is where air circuits could truly shine – by contributing to the overall energy efficiency of quantum computing.