It appears that we may be on the verge of the next great transition in electronics. First we had the relay, then the Vacuum Tube, then the transistor.
Soon, there will be: “the crossbar latch”.
Hewlett Packard scientists have published a paper in the Journal of Applied Physics describing a new way to perform the “on/off/NOT/store” state that is the basis of how our everyday electronic devices work.
Basically, it’s a transistor, on a “nano” scale. Nano means a millionth-of-a-meter (1/1,000,000).
Current computer processors are built with transistors 0.09 nanometers thick. The original 486 and Pentium processors were, I believe 0.70+ nanometers.
Smaller means faster… but the past few “shrinks” have been very difficult for the likes of Intel and IBM and others and it is clear that the end of near for the transistor. 0.065 nanometers is the next goal for Intel, but no one seems to know if a further shrink to, say, 0.03 is even possible.
These new “crossbar latches” are only 1 molecule wide, and represents a whole new approach, just like the transistor did over the Tube.
As they say, I guess the future is Now.