Scientists at Edmonton's National Institute for Nanotechnology have
made a significant breakthrough that could help pave the way for new
generations of smaller, more energy-efficient computers.
team, led by Robert Wolkow, has invented the world's smallest quantum
dots, atom-sized devices capable of controlling electrons, using a
fraction of the power of current computer technology.
speaking, we predict there could be a 1,000-time reduction in power
consumption with electronic computers built in this new way," said
Wolkow, a physicist at the University of Alberta.
"And they could
be something like 1,000 times smaller in size. So it's reaching the
very limit as far as anyone could imagine of how small things could
The team's work is published in the latest edition of Physical Review Letters, considered the world's premier physics journal.
computers use transistors, which are essentially valves for flowing
streams of electrons around a circuit. In recent years, engineers have
found ways to make these devices smaller, but pushing electrons through
narrow spaces raises the danger of the machines overheating and failing.
"So the problem is no longer how do we make it smaller, it's how do we consume less power," Wolkow said.