Mini microchip raises hope of tiny computer

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A breakthrough in microchip technology has opened up the prospect of computers that are hundreds of times smaller and more powerful than existing models.

A breakthrough in microchip technology has opened up the prospect of computers that are hundreds of times smaller and more powerful than existing models.

Scientists have made a transistor that is roughly a million times smaller than a grain of sand, using a single layer of carbon molecules – a feat that could one day lead to the development of "organic" computers that could communicate directly with the human brain.

Never before have scientists been able to build a transistor – the basic on/off switches within a computer's electronic circuit – from a single layer of molecules. Hendrik Schon, who led the research team from the Bell Labs at Lucent Technologies in New Jersey, said organic computers made out of carbon chips rather than silicon could be built within 10 to 15 years.

The discovery meant that thousands of times more transistors could be packed on to each microchip.

One of the possible benefits of the study, which is published today in the journal Nature, is that the brain – whose circuits are carbon-based – will eventually be able to control computers by thought alone.

Comments