Nanotechnology Leaps Forward

This week brought news of two advances in nanotechnology that could bring us ever-smaller devices with ever-increasing capacity.

One brought us transistors a mere fraction of the size of most the advanced currently used on silicon chips. The other gave us the ability to store 250 DVDs worth of data on the area the size of a U.S. quarter.

First, the transistors:

A team from the University of Pittsburgh, led by Jeremy Levy, "created its nanotech transistors using two ceramic crystal materials known as lanthanum aluminate and strontium titanate. When sandwiched together, these natural insulators conduct electricity as a positive charge is passed across them."

The big deal is that this is the first time this has been done and proved to be reliable. Levy says this could pave the way for making transistors the size of atoms for computers, sensors and other devices. Atoms.

As for the other, you could end up being able to store your entire DVD collection in your change purse, mayhaps?

The challenge in creating such deep storage capacity in such a small space has been that the polymers used in creating the sheets tended to break down when stretched too far.

To overcome this, the team lead by Thomas Russell of the University of Massachusetts heated sapphire crystals to create a specific pattern of ridges on the surface. This served as a guide for the semiconductor film.

If taken to the next level, they could make "nearly perfect arrays of semiconductor material that are about 15 times denser than anything achieved previously."

In other words, don't think you can download your entire collection just yet.