So, the University of Pittsburgh has created a single-electron transistor. In other words, they’ve essentially built an artificial atom. That would be the image at right: the green things are the wires. That green thing in the center would be the island, which is only 1.5 nanometers long.
Aside from proving that there is a limit to how small you can make a transistor, this is pretty much a breakthrough on par with Babbage. Why? Consider that the smallest transistor currently in use commercially is, oh, 45 nanometers. But that’s thinking small.
A transistor this size makes a lot of things possible: solid state memories with capacities that make your current CF card look like crap, for example. Even better, that tiny island could be used to make superconductors that are currently theoretical at this point, with bizarre and useful properties.
In short, it’s a great reason to stop making Pittsburgh jokes. Well, for this week, anyway.
[ via the tiny islands at Science Daily ]