Researchers develop one of the world's smallest electronic circuits

December 7, 2011
The wires are separated by just 150 atoms. Credit: McGill University

A team of scientists, led by Guillaume Gervais from McGill's Physics Department and Mike Lilly from Sandia National Laboratories, has engineered one of the world's smallest electronic circuits. It is formed by two wires separated by only about 150 atoms or 15 nanometers (nm).

This discovery, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, could have a significant effect on the speed and power of the ever smaller of the future in everything from smartphones to desktop computers, televisions and .

This is the first time that anyone has studied how the wires in an electronic circuit interact with one another when packed so tightly together. Surprisingly, the authors found that the effect of one wire on the other can be either positive or negative. This means that a current in one wire can produce a current in the other one that is either in the same or the opposite direction. This discovery, based on the principles of , suggests a need to revise our understanding of how even the simplest electronic circuits behave at the nanoscale.

In addition to the effect on the speed and efficiency of future , this discovery could also help to solve one of the major challenges facing future computer design. This is managing the ever-increasing amount of heat produced by integrated circuits. Well-known theorist Markus Büttiker speculates that it may be possible to harness the energy lost as heat in one wire by using other wires nearby. Moreover, Buttiker believes that these findings will have an impact on the future of both fundamental and applied research in nanoelectronics.

Explore further: UCLA scientists working to create smaller, faster integrated circuits

More information: Nature Nanotechnology, www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nnano.2011.182.html

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6 comments

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that_guy
not rated yet Dec 07, 2011
Pardon my ignorance, but how is this so different from a semiconducter at 22nm...or even less if you consider that it's been done experimentally at 8 to 10 nm...
gwrede
5 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
Pardon my ignorance, but this same story was in another article, I think today here.
Callippo
1 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2011
..it may be possible to harness the energy lost as heat in one wire by using other wires nearby..
Yep, the same energy saving theorists are willing to ignore cold fusion research for decades. They're just following the continuity of their salaries, not the saving of money for the rest of people.
that_guy
not rated yet Dec 07, 2011
Pardon my ignorance, but this same story was in another article, I think today here.

Yeah, I read it after I read this one. The other article is much better.
Nanobanano
not rated yet Dec 07, 2011
Well, they didn't really mention the possibility of capturing of heat to reuse the energy in the other article, so that's something..
MarkyMark
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
..it may be possible to harness the energy lost as heat in one wire by using other wires nearby..
Yep, the same energy saving theorists are willing to ignore cold fusion research for decades. They're just following the continuity of their salaries, not the saving of money for the rest of people.

This is not a cold Fusion topic go derail some other topic.

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