Honey, I shrunk the electronics

Gadgets just get smaller and smaller all the time, it seems. And the trend looks set to continue – a group of scientists have managed to create a diode that is formed of a single molecule.

The diode is the basic building block of electronics; from diodes you can build transistors, from transistors you can build logic gates, from logic gates you can build processors, memory and all that other good stuff that lurks inside your computer, phone, alarm clock and pretty much everything else these days. Making the basic blocks smaller means that the devices can be shrunk by a similar factor – and this new molecule-diode is 1000 times smaller than the current equivalents on processor chips at the moment.

This is good news as far as the electronics industry is concerned, and the computer makers too. It gives a longer lease of life to Moore’s Law, which basically predicts that the complexity of a processor chip (in relation to its price) will double every 18 months or so. Moore’s Law has been looking to be on shakey ground recently, due to the industry pushing the limits of scale possible with the lithography methods currently used to make devices – basically, there’s only so small a line you can draw on a slice of silicon, even when you use lasers and so on.

So we can look forward to electronics products getting smaller than ever before…which only leaves the question: if they get much smaller, how will we be able to find the damn things if we drop them? 😉

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