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5 Tech Breakthroughs: Chip-Level Advances That May Change Computing

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circuits with germanium lasers

A microprocessor developed at MIT uses germanium lasers and infrared light instead of wires to transmit data.

Credit: Dominick Reuter / MIT

Chip-level advances, including new processors and circuits, could be the building blocks that lead to a new generation of products and devices. For example, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researcher Jurgen Michel wants to develop a microprocessor that uses flashing germanium lasers to transmit data instead of wires. MIT's researchers are using photons instead of electrons to make data transmission more efficient.

Meanwhile, memristor technology could be a faster, more durable and less expensive alternative to flash memory. Hewlett-Packard is building memristors using alternating layers of titanium dioxide and platinum, built in a grid-like pattern. These resistive random access memory chips can store about twice as much data as flash chips but are more than 1,000 times faster than flash memory and could last for millions of rewrite cycles.

Other technologies under development include Tabula's Spacetime technology and its ABAX chip design, which aims to trick the circuit into rearranging itself on demand so that it only appeared to other components to have several layers of active elements.

Meanwhile, IBM researchers have developed experimental graphene-based transistors and integrated circuits using standard semiconductor manufacturing techniques, and Xerox's PARC researchers are developed a less expensive and easier method for making electronics by printing circuits on a plastic sheet.

From Computerworld
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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