Nanowire Transistors For Smallest Computers

Nanowire transistors could form the basis for the tiniest computers possible, says a team led by Charles Lieber, a professor of chemistry at Harvard, and Shamik Das, lead engineer in MITRE's nanosystems group.

They built a reprogrammable circuit out of nanowire transistors; taken together, you wind up with the first scalable nanowire computer.

To make the new nanowire circuit, researchers deposited lines of nanowires, made of a germanium core and silicon shell, on a substrate and crossed them with lines of metal electrodes to create a grid. The points where the nanowires and electrodes intersect act as a transistor that can be turned on and off independently. The researchers made a single tile, with an area of 960 square microns containing 496 functional transistors. It is designed to wire to other tiles so that the transistors, in aggregate, could act as complex logic gates for processing or memory.

The nanowire transistors maintain their state-on or off—regardless of whether the power is on. This gives it an instant-on capability, important for low-power sensors that might need to collect data only sporadically and also need to conserve power.


(Smallest computers yet?)
Top: Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image of a programmable
nanowire logic circuit tile assembled bottom-up for computational
functionalities such as full-adder. The tile can be scaled up into a
fully-functional integrated nanoprocessor
Bottom: This false-colored scanning electron microscope image
shows a nanowire processor tile superimposed on top of the
architecture used to design the circuit.

These circuits could be as much as ten times more power-efficient than circuits made of traditional materials. Nanowire doesn't allow electric current to leak, and the design uses capacitive connections instead of resistive ones.

This is the kind of computing size and power you'd need to implement the nanomachine swarm from Stanislaw Lem's amazing 1954 novel The Invincible:

"Two types of systems were successful in this evolutionary pattern: first, those that made the greatest progress in miniaturization and then those that became settled in a definite place. The first type were the beginning of these 'black clouds.' I believe them to be very tiny pseudo insects that, if necessary, and for their common good, can unite to form a superordinate system. This is the course taken by the evolution of the mobile mechanisms."
(Read more about Lem's nanomachine swarms)

Fans of Philip K. Dick are also anticipating the arrival of the autofac from his 1955 short story of the same name:

The pellet was a smashed container of machinery, tiny metallic elements too minute to be analyzed without a microscope...

The bits were in motion. Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something that looked like a tiny rectangle of steel.

From Lieber research group via Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/10/2011)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Computer ")

Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
'Nothing... left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1956.

Razer Project Valerie Laptop Unfurls
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently...' - William Gibson, 1986.

Google Home Continues Implementation Of Pohl's Joymaker
'It is a transponder connecting you with the central computing facilities of the city in which you reside on a shared-time, self-programming basis.' - Frederik Pohl, 1966.

New Startup 'Improbable' To Model Our World
'A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1965.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Cattle Avoidance Feature In Indian Autonomous Cars
'The driver went about the business of gently slipping the teflon-coated metal scoop beneath the first animal...'

Project KOVR Fashion Protection From Infosphere
'... the entire shroudlike membrane took on whatever physical characteristics were projected at any nanosecond.'

Twist Bioscience High Density Digital Data On DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!'

'We're Not Creating A Terminator' Say Russians About Gun-Wielding Robot Fedor
Nobody is thinking about the Terminator. Westworld, maybe.

Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now that’s ninety-nine percent absorptive...'

Mercedes-Benz Autonomous Taxi Fleet In 3 Years
'... the taxi utilized sophisticated electronic sensors to perceive its surroundings.'

Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

Someday, You Might Like VR Enough To Move In
'That barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'

Humans Use Mental Power For Turtle Slavery
Now we need to start looking for animals with fingers...

Solar-Powered Moisture Vaporator
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'

DxtER! Tricorder Prize Won By Final Frontier Medical Devices
We've been waiting a long time for this, Star Trek fans.

President Trump's Wall As Otra Nation Hyperloop
'...an hollow tube must be constructed the whole distance... as to admit a four wheeled carriage...'

Pickup Lines From Artificial Intelligences
'They hate us, you know... The humans. They'll stop at nothing.'

Pooper Scooper Drone Robot Watchdog 1
'Robots pick up the garbage and junk...'

Cassie Robot Brings AT-ST Walker To Life
There's even a log test!

Hundreds Of Robot Lawnmowers Invade Texas Town
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.