A US researcher claims to have invented a way of increasing the density of silicon chips way beyond the possibilities of today's technology.
Professor Stephen Chou, of Princeton University, has developed a technique involving stamping out chips with a quartz die which could keep computer speed doubling for years.
Standard chip production involves printing a pattern of transistors and wiring on to a silicon wafer. The circuitry is then etched into the silicon and the printed image removed.
Because the individual features of the chip are so tiny, as narrow as 130 nanometres in current chips, the printing machine can cost well over £10m.
Professor Chou's technique, reported in the scientific journal Nature, involves a mechanical printing of the features of the chip using a quartz die which is pressed against silicon that has been melted briefly by a laser.
Professor Chou claimed that his invention can produce chip features 10 times narrower, enabling builders to pack 100 times as many components into the same area of silicon.
The more densely packed the components on a chip, the faster it can run because the signals passing through its circuitry arrive more quickly.
He told Nature that his chips were already 20 years ahead of conventional technology.
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