Californian scientists have developed a tiny new transistor that they claim will maintain the momentum behind the electronics industry for another 25 years.
Work on the project started about two years ago at the University of California, Berkeley, and will be unveiled next month at the International Electronic Devices Meeting in Washington.
Chenming Hu, a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at the University, said the transistor was important because the microelectronics revolution had been driven by making such devices smaller and smaller and this had led to cheaper and faster electronics devices.
Transistor sizes had, in fact, he claimed, decreased by about 400 times in the past 25 years. The devices control the flow of electric current in electronic appliances.
"This new structure, I project, will allow the transistor to be reduced by another 400 times and keep the revolution going for another 25 years. I can't imagine what the world will be like with the electronic power," he said.
But he added that he did not expect the new transistor to go into commercial production for another five to 10 years.
The prototype transistor called "FinFET" has a newly designed 'gate' or switch, which is 18 nanometers long or about the width of 100 atoms. While too small to be viewed by the naked eye, the gate is visible through a scanning electron microscope, however.
And although Hu claimed that the gate was already 10 times shorter than the standard industry transistor, he added that he expected this to halve in future.
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And becomes the team's executive chairman to boot