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Researchers Develop Transistors That Can Switch Between Two Stable Energy States

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University of Illinois engineer Milton Feng and his team have introduced an upgrade to transistor lasers that could boost computer processor speeds.

Engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are unveiling an upgrade to the transistor laser that could be used to boost computer processor speeds.

Credit: L. Brian Stauffer

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have conducted a study in which they constructed optical and electrical bistable outputs from a single transistor, creating a feedback loop using a process known as electron tunneling that controls the transmission of light.

The team says the new transistor could enable new devices and applications that have not been possible with traditional transistor technology.

"Building a transistor with electrical and optical bistability into a computer chip will significantly increase processing speeds, because the devices can communicate without the interference that occurs when limited to electron-only transistors," says UIUC professor Milton Feng.

The researchers have demonstrated electro-optical bistability at -50 degrees Celsius. Feng says the team also recently proved the device can operate at room temperature. "Any electronic device is virtually useless if it can't operate at room temperature," he notes.

From University of Illinois News Bureau
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