Nanoscale electronic circuit developed

Dec. 7, 2011 at 6:57 PM
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MONTREAL, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Canadian and U.S. researchers say they've engineered a minute electronic circuit, containing two wires separated by the distance of just 150 atoms.

The advances made by a team of scientists from McGill University and Sandia National Laboratories could have a significant effect on the speed and power of the ever-smaller integrated circuits in everything from smartphones to desktop computers, televisions and GPS devices, a McGill release said Wednesday.

Unexpectedly, the authors found that in a circuit in which components are packed so close together, one wire's effect on another other can be either positive or negative. That means a current in one wire can produce a current in the other that flows in either the same or the opposite direction. The researchers say the discovery suggests scientists' understanding of how electronic circuits behave at the nanoscale will need to be revised.

This advancement could also help computer designers solve the problem of heat produced by integrated circuits.

The researchers, whose work was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, say it may be possible to harness the energy lost as heat in one wire by using other wires nearby to gather and convert it.

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