Move over, silicon — it may be time to give the Valley a new name. Physicists at the Department of Energy‘s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have confirmed the existence of a type of material that could one day provide dramatically faster, more efficient computer chips.
Recently-predicted and much-sought, the material allows electrons on its surface to travel with no loss of energy at room temperatures and can be fabricated using existing semiconductor technologies. Such material could provide a leap in microchip speeds, and even become the bedrock of an entirely new kind of computing industry based on spintronics, the next evolution of electronics. Physicists Yulin Chen, Zhi-Xun Shen and their colleagues tested the behaviour of electrons in the compound bismuth telluride. The results, published online June 11 in Science Express, show a clear signature of what is called a topological insulator, a material that enables the free flow of electrons across its surface with no loss of energy.
So now my generation might be the last one to know the computers as we know them today. Of course this is just one among many other things, like the black and white photographs, black and white television, cars with stick-shift gear, hardcopy (not electronic) scrapbooking etc., that the next generation may never know of! Wow, now THAT makes me feel old!
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