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December 31st, 2003
The End of the Line for Silicon Dioxide?
By means of computer simulations, scientists at the Technical Universities in Clausthal and Vienna are investigating new materials for even smaller and more efficient transistor generations. The smaller the transistors, the faster they can operate. As a result, faster and faster processors can also be designed. The function of a transistor requires the presence of a thin insulating layer, the gate oxide. In only a few years, the thickness of this layer will be only one fifty-thousandth of that of a human hair. With continuing use of silicon dioxide as gate oxide, however, further miniaturisation of transistors - and thus the manufacture of even faster chips - will no longer be possible in a few years.
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