Headline June 26, 2016/ ''' *COMPUTING* : THE FUTURE IN THE PAST '''

''' *COMPUTING* : 


BRILLIANTLY AS EVER  -THE VERY STARK TRUTH IS   -that the very future of computing may be in its long past.

The silicon transistor, the tiny switch that is the  building block  of the modern microelectronics era, replaced the vacuum tube  in many consumer products in the 1970s.

Now as shrinking transistors to even more  Lilliputian dimensions  is becoming vastly more challenging, the vacuum tube may be on the verge of a comeback.

In a darkened laboratory here, two stories beneath the  California Institute of Technology campus, TWO STUDENTS   stare through the wall of a thick plastic vacuum chamber  at what they hope will be the next small thing-

A computer chip made from circuits like  vacuum tubes  whose dimensions are each roughly a  thousand times smaller than a red blood cell. Yes, I repeat, '' a thousand times smaller than a red blood cell''.

At stake is the future of what electronic engineers call  *scaling*  the ability to continue to shrink the size of an electronic circuits, which is becoming harder to do as they become as small as *viruses*.

It has been more than half a century since the physicist  Richard Feynman predicted the world of microelectronics, noting  ''there's plenty of room at the bottom.''

He used the phrase in 1959  lecture in which he speculated about ability to engineer with individual atoms. Several years later, the  Intel co-founder Gordon Moore wrote that the number of transistors that could be etched into silicon wafers would continue to double at regular intervals for the foreseeable future.

NOW, however, there is growing evidence that space, if still available, is increasingly at a premium. Progress is slowing down. The time between each new chip generation is stretching out, and the cost of individual transistors, although infinitesimal, is no longer falling.

The tiny transistors also bedevil chip designers, because as they get smaller, they generate unwanted heat.

For Axel Scherer, who heads the  Nanofabrication Group at  Caltech, that means going back to the future.

WITH HIS STUDENTS    Max Jones and  Daniil Lukin,   he is pursuing what is in effect an  ultrsamall  vacuum tube as a candidate to replace the transistor. In the laboratory here they have fabricated circuits that function like vacuum tubes but are a million times smaller than that  100-year-old technology.      

'' Computer Technologies seem to work in cycles,'' said Alan Huang, a former electrical engineer for Bell Laboratories. ''Some of the same algorithms that were developed for the last generation can sometimes be used for the next generation.''

The last time researchers explored  vacuum tubes  was in the  1990s, when they were a promising option for building flat panel displays. The technology failed to  take-off, however, because of cheaper and more efficient liquid crystal displays.

'' The vacuum tube comes back about every decade,'' said Dr. Scherer with a laugh. And for decades, that has been the story of vacuum tubes. There has always been a better option.

Transistors originally replaced  vacuum tubes  because they were more compact, did not generate  skin-burning  heat and did not need a vacuum. The absence of atmosphere made it possible for electrons to jump between positively and negatively charged elements.

The vacuum tubes the  Caltech researchers are looking at are nothing like the bulky objects that hummed in the old family radio and even very early computers.

Both transistors and vacuum tubes  -the British called the devices valves   -control the flow of electricity, but they do so differently.

The researchers have created a tiny tube formed from metal and capable of turning  on and off  the flow of electrons  between four even smaller probes, which under an electron microscope appear like the tips of four ballpoint pens almost touching one another.  

The Achilles' heel of today's transistor is the smaller they get, the more they leak electrons.

In  modern computer chips, as much as half of the power consumed is lost as electrons leak from transistors that are only dozens of atoms wide.

*These electrons waste energy and generate heat*.

The Honour and Serving of the latest ''Operational Research''  on  technology, and hardware specific development continues. Thank Ya all for reading and for sharing forward.

With respectful dedication to the Scientists, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world involved in Research & Development. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society and  !E-WOW!  -the Ecosystem 2011:

''' No Exceptions '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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