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Nano circuit: glimpse of the future?

How many nano circuits can fit in one of your hairs? Five, as it turns out.

Researchers from Florida and New York have built a computer circuit on a single molecule that is a fifth of the width of a human hair. Want to see one? Get out your electron microscope.

This nano circuit has 12 transistors that are made of aluminum and palladium and are laid along the length of a carbon nanotube. The result is what the researchers called a ring oscillator, something that they can use to track transistor speeds and properties.

The speed on this thing is amazing for its kind but slow as silicon-based computer chips go. In testing, the nano circuit achieved a top speed of just 50 MHz. This is, of course, nothing compared to today’s gigahertz speeds, but the density of silicon will eventually prohibit tinier and tinier chips of the sort needed to continue the progress made over the past several years.

Nano circuit research is perhaps the latest step in a new direction on the quest for more and more information packed into tinier and tinier information sources.

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