A high-stakes search continues for silicon’s successor

December 6, 2011 | Source: New York Times

As we approach the limits of miniaturization of silicon semiconductors, at universities and corporate laboratories around the world, researchers are trying to develop the next generation of chip-making technologies.

Stanford University researchers are making prototypes of a new kind of molecular-scale semiconductor nanocircuit called a carbon nanotube field effect transistor (CNFET) that is far smaller and uses far less power than today’s most advanced silicon-based computer circuits. It may one day be the basis for the world’s fastest supercomputers and the smallest and lowest-powered consumer gadgets.

Researchers at HP Labs are close to commercializing another new semiconductor technology based on a circuit element called a “memristor,” which can substitute for transistors, initially in a memory chip that might offer an alternative to both Flash and DRAM memories.