The World's Tiniest Plasma Transistor Will Soon Be Making All Your Supertough Electronics
Mar 21, 2014 10:59
See that pink glow in this pic? Would you believe that it's coming from the world's smallest plasma transistor?
Transistors are pretty important in the electronic industry, as they
control how much electricity flows in the computer chips that power
device you've ever laid hands on.
The one shown in the pic was fabricated by Professor Massood Tabib-Azar and doctoral student Pradeep Pai at the University of Utah, and is 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair. That's a full 500 times smaller than current state of the art microplasma devices:
"This transistor has the potential to start a new class of electronic devices that are happy to work in a nuclear environment,"
plasma-based electronics can be used to control and guide robots to
conduct tasks inside the nuclear reactor, [or] control nuclear reactors
if something goes wrong, and also could work in the event of nuclear
But just because its tiny doesn't mean its not tough. Unlike silicon transistors that start to fall apart at temperatures over 550 degrees Fahrenheit, this plasma-based transistor uses charged gases rather than physical circuits to conduct electricity. This super-tiny transistor only needs one-sixth the voltage of larger plasma transistors, and it's capable of surviving temps up to nearly 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. So theoretically, it should be able to withstand even the most brutal environments.
[PhysOrg] Image: Dan Hixson, College of Engineering, University of Utah
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