Quantum Tunneling: Transistors Without Semiconductors

Gordon Moore, one of the founding fathers of Intel once wrote in a paper that the number of resistors on a chip will double every two years, an estimate which has been refined to 18 months. Of late this law has run into a problem as physicists are aware that they will only be able to fit so many resistors on a chip due to the physics of conventional silicon chip; this limit is expected to be reached in 10 to 20 years. This may seem to put a limit on how much processing power we can get from a chip, but new research has shown that this particular problem may be overcome by the power of quantum tunneling.

By using a nanoscale insultator, boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs), and nanoscale quantum dots of gold they were able to create a transistor which suffered no leakage of energy in the form of heat as the electrons tunneled from dot to dot when a current was applied. This is technique has one current fallback, that is only works at liquid-helium temperature, approx. 3 Kelvin. Even despite this current drawback, the technique holds promise as you can miniaturise the tunnel channels to almost zero, allowing for a small fraction of a micron between electrodes. This means that the amounts of non-conventional quantum tunneling transistors able to fit on a chip would be many many times greater than that of conventional transistors, allowing for huge increases in computing power.