Alchemy Gets the Last Laugh

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2006-12-08 Print this article Print

An announcement due out today from MIT will report initial results from work with "III-V compound semiconductors": composite materials, in particular indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs), which have shown the ability to handle 2.5 times the current of silicon devices and to provide high performance at voltages as low as 0.5 V in devices on the order of only 60-nanometer size.

The announcement credits much of the new devices' performance to the high quality of the material produced by MBE Technology of Singapore. It's ironic that the next major breakthroughs in computing that carry us into the next decade may be made, not by the applied math of software science or in the artificial timing-diagram world of computer architecture, but in the latest revisions of the old-fashioned alchmists' workshops. It's useful to recall that real engineering, sometimes resembling magic as much as science, is the underpinning of digital miracles.

Bits are a lie, at best a useful approximation to the truth. Cheerleaders for fad labels like Web 2.0 or "the digital lifestyle" forget this at their peril. |

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