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March 30th, 2007

Solving big problems on a miniscule scale

Many researchers think they can use silicon nanoparticles to make computers work much faster, Korgel said. A silicon computer chip that generated light would be able to transmit data at the speed of light, rather than at the slower speed of electricity. Unfortunately, silicon is one semiconductor that does not emit light - unless it is smaller than 10 nanometers in diameter, he said.

"If you take silicon and make it less than 10 nanometers in diameter, it starts to have completely different properties, like it starts to emit light efficiently, he said. "Most materials do that; they still have the same crystal structure, the same composition, but because of their very, very small size, their properties are fundamentally different."


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