What if we could take the heat out of the transistor easier?

For about the last decade efforts in computer design have moved away from higher clock speeds to providing more computing cores. Consumer PC computer speeds have topped out at close to 4 GHz for one reason – heat! The faster they run, and the denser the transistors, the more heat generated to the point where the devices begin to break down.

There may be a new approach being researched that could help address the issue of heat buildup. Researches at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have been experimenting with a form of iridium oxide, Sr3Ir2O7.

The electronic structure of a material is typically rigid, with distinct energy levels or “bands” that fill up as electrons are added. These levels are determined by the atomic structure and chemical composition of the material. In the study, these energy levels were observed to deform drastically, in a fluid way, as more electrons poured in, while the physical structure of the material did not change in any significant way.

“Guided by theoretical calculations led by Arun Bansil, a professor of physics at Northeastern University, researchers found that a gap between different groupings of energy bands in the sample material actually shrank as electrons were added, reducing the material’s stored energy level – like the water level appearing to decline in the cup example.”

The implications are that the real estate on chips could be used differently or computing clock cycles maybe increased. In either case should increase the amount of computing available to generate value.

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