Researchers have uncovered a material that they say has distinct advantages over traditional silicon and even graphene for use in electronics. Called molybdenite (MoS2), this mineral is abundant in nature and is commonly used as an element in steel alloys or, thanks to its similarity in appearance and feel to graphite, as an additive in lubricant. But the mineral hadn’t been studied for use in electronics, which appears to have been an oversight with new research showing that molybdenite is a very effective semiconductor that could enable smaller and more energy efficient transistors, computer chips and solar cells.
In this week’s issue of the journal Science, MIT researchers and their colleagues at the University of Augsburg in Germany report the discovery of a new physical phenomenon that could yield transistors with greatly enhanced capacitance — a measure of the voltage required to move a charge. And that, in turn, could lead to the revival of clock speed as the measure of a computer’s power.
Intel Corp. said Wednesday that it has redesigned the electronic switches on its chips so that computers can keep getting cheaper and more powerful.
The switches, known as transistors, have typically been flat. By adding a third dimension “fins” that jut up from the base Intel will be able to make the transistors and chips smaller. Think of how skyscrapers address the need for more office space when land is scarce.
From Technology Review:
Changing chip design on demand could allow TVs and other devices to upgrade their own hardware.
The new chips—made by a startup called Tabula—are a cheaper, more powerful competitor to an existing type of reprogrammable chip known as a field programmable gate array (FPGA). FPGAs are sometimes shipped in finished devices when that is cheaper than building a new chip from scratch—usually things that are expensive and sell in low volumes such as CT scanners. More commonly, FPGAs simply provide a way to prototype a design before making a conventional fixed microchip.