September 28, 2009

Speedier computer circuits created

Physicists at the University of California-San Diego say they've created speedy integrated computer circuits capable of working in very cold environments.

The circuits, built with particles called excitons, can operate at commercially cold temperatures, bringing the possibility of a new type of extremely fast computer based on excitons closer to reality, researchers said.

The accomplishment follows the team's demonstration last summer of an integrated circuit capable of working at 1.5 degrees Kelvin above absolute zero. That temperature, equivalent to minus 457 degrees Fahrenheit, is not only less than the average temperature of deep space, but achievable only in special research laboratories.

In the new study, the scientists created an integrated circuit that operates at 125 degrees Kelvin -- a temperature equivalent to minus 234 degrees Fahrenheit and one that can be easily attained commercially using liquid nitrogen.

Our goal is to create efficient devices based on excitons that are operational at room temperature and can replace electronic devices where a high interconnection speed is important, said Professor Leonid Butov, who led the study. We're still in an early stage of development. Our team has only recently demonstrated the proof of principle for a transistor based on excitons and research is in progress.

The study is detailed in the early online edition of the journal Nature Photonics.