Speeding past silicon to reinvent electronics
Graphene and gallium nitride, new materials that are faster and more powerful than silicon. A transistor just 22 nanometers wide. Nano-powered propulsion systems for satellites the size of a Rubik’s cube. Optical computing that calculates using light rather than electricity. Electronics have powered the modern era—and nanotechnology is powering the future of electronics.
Nano Power in Space
CubeSats, nanosatellites about the size of a Rubik’s cube, carry communications systems into space, supporting space and planetary research. MIT engineers are using nanomaterials to build penny-sized thrusters, which can power CubeSats for bigger missions and increasingly complex tasks.
Professor Paulo Lozano SM '98, PhD '03
Alternatives to Silicon
To build faster and smarter computing devices, the size of transistors must keep shrinking to allow increasing numbers of them to be squeezed onto microchips—and silicon cannot keep pace. A team at MIT used a new material, indium gallium arsenide, to develop the smallest transistor ever built from a silicon rival, just 22 nanometers long.
Professors Jesús del Alamo and Dimitri Antoniadis
Storing the Digital Universe
The digital universe, the data we produce and copy, doubles every two years, and by 2020 will reach 44 trillion gigabytes—but storage capacity is not keeping pace. Researchers in the Thin-Film Laboratory are exploiting the behavior of materials at the nanoscale to combine the magnetic and electrical properties of iron oxides to make data storage devices that are smaller, denser, and more energy efficient.
Professor Caroline Ross