updated 11:05 am EST, Thu December 8, 2011
Smallest circuit is based on Coulomb Drag theory
Researchers at Canada's McGill University and New Mexico's Sandia National Laboratories are developing the smallest electronic circuit. Published in Nature Nanotechnology, it consists of just two wires which are separated by 15 nanometers, or about 150 atoms. The circuit relies on a principle called Coulomb Drag.
The drag effect involves flowing current in opposite directions in the wires, creating a positive and negative flow in the circuit. These tiny circuits are said to be able to deal with the small amounts of heat generated without needing specialized heatsink structures either, relying instead on adjacent wires. The small size will also increase speeds, as signals have shorter distances to cover.
Developing very small circuits could lead to major strides in performance as well as lower-powered devices at the same performance levels as today.
The research is thus far experimental, and headed up by Guillaume Gervais from McGill's Physics Department and Mike Lilly from Sandia National Laboratories. [via CrazyEngineers]