The invention of the transistor in 1947 relegated bulky, hot, power-hungry vacuum tubes (some call them thermionic valves) to the ranks of historical oddities. Now University of Pittsburgh researchers have proposed harnessing tube tech to create a new class of low-power, highspeed devices that could unblock what seems to be a traffic jam in the progress of Moore’s Law (see below). Says principal investigator Professor Hong Koo Kim, electrons frequently collide or scatter in a solid-state medium. However, his team found that electrons trapped inside a semiconductor at the interface with an oxide or metal layer could be easily extracted using a low voltage and then routed through a nano-scale vacuum channel – without any collisions or scattering.
It’s the Law
Moore’s Law predicts a doubling of the number of transistors on integrated circuits every two years. But, as semiconductors shrink down to nano levels, Moore’s Law is bumping up against physical limits – and efficiency is falling.