Friday, February 20, 2009


I might be getting in the habit of having Friday on the M-Brane--like on NPR--be "Science Friday."  The cool thing I heard about today on the NPR show was how the Etch-a-Sketch toy inspired a stroke of genius in the realm of making nano-scale transistors, possibly eventually leading to advances in computer technology. We hear once in a while that computer processing capability doubles every couple years--and this has a lot to do with the ability to make the transistors in the silicon chips ever smaller--but that pretty soon it won't be possible to keep up that pace of miniaturization because of the physical limits of the thing and that some kind of new tech will need to be developed.

A University of Pittsburgh research team led by physics and astronomy professor Jeremy Levy has figured out a way to basically "draw" nanoscale wires into an insulating material using the sharp conducting probe of an atomic-force microscope.  And then what they "draw" can be "erased."  Don't worry: I won't try to explain it any better than that since you can read about in detail online if you are interested. I bet this idea will start showing up in people's sf stories any day now, though.  I wish they had put up some kind of cool-looking pics to illustrate this, but I couldn't find any. But here's a pic of Levy.

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