Conventional wisdom said that we had to reach the limits of Moore’s law sooner or later. Well, you can throw out a hearty “bah! humbug!” to conventional wisdom, as scientists at UNSW have created a working transistor using a single phosphorous atom that might blow right past Moore’s law.
Moore’s law, in case you’re not familiar with it, states that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit is likely to double every eighteen months or so. There are obvious physical limits to how far Moore’s law could be pushed, with an expectation that it would tail off in the next decade. Unless, that is, you could get transistors down to the atomic level, and that’s exactly what the team at the ARC Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at the University of New South Wales has done.
Bloomberg quotes Michelle Simmons, director of the ARC Centre is quoted in the article as saying that it’s a project they’ve been working on for some time.
‘We really decided 10 years ago to start this program to try and make single-atom devices as fast as we could, and beat that law. So here we are in 2012, and we’ve made a single-atom transistor roughly 8 to 10 years ahead of where the industry is going to be.’
While the research is incredibly exciting, you won’t be popping down to the local store to buy a phosphorous atom CPU this time next week, as there’s still one significant limitation to overcome; in order to keep things stable, the atom has to be kept at -235 degrees celsius. That’s some hardcore CPU cooling right there. [Bloomberg]