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Quantum Cells Make a Bid To Outshrink Transistors

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Science  15 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5328, pp. 898-899
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5328.898

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Even the most gung-ho circuit builders know that heat overload and quantum effects, such as the elusive behavior of electrons on very small scales, will eventually stop them from packing more and more transistors onto a single computer chip. But a paper in this issue of Science describes a device that dodges these limits by exploiting them: a dominolike array of "quantum dots" in which electrons quantum-mechanically "tunnel" from dot to dot. The arrays could process information by interacting with their neighbors, and they could, in principle, be drastically smaller than transistors.