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Manchester Boffins demo smallest transistor ever

A team of researchers at the University of Manchester have built what is believed to be the smallest - and simplest - transistor in the world, one that is one atom thick and 10 atom wide.

The transistor is made up of graphene which can be found in pencil lead; graphene abundance and ability to conduct electricity in one dimension; Scientists from the University of Manchester first isolated and studied it since 2004.

The competition to find a replacement for silicon has been heating up as physical barriers make it quasi-impossible for semiconductors manufacturers to get the size below a certain limit; Intel is planning for a 10nm process while IBM has a 32nm available right now.

Experts predict that this wall will be reached by 2020 by which time, it might be commercially feasible to use graphene; the transistor that the Manchester Researchers have built is equivalent to a 1nm process.

Graphene is better than silicon since it conducts electricity faster and further; transistors based on the material could find their way in LCD displays where its one-atom thickness makes it a perfect replacement for more expensive conductive coatings.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.