Printer Friendly

Record-breaking transistor, robot.

In 40 years, computers have shrunk from the size of a room to that of a phone book. This miniaturization has been made possible by ever tinier components and ever more precise manufacturing technologies. Last month, scientists pushed the limits even further by introducing the world's smallest transistor and an extremely dexterous robot.

The new metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor packs its active area -- 1/75,000 the cross-section of a human hair -- into a space 1/20 the size of any previous transistor, according to Clive M. Reeves and his colleagues at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. The largest memory chips today can store about 16 megabits of information, but this new transistor should enable engineers to pack 4 gigabits of memory into a single chip, the researchers reported in Orlando, Fla., at the 36th International Symposium on Electron, Ion and Photon Beams.

To make a robot that could build better computer packages and circuit boards, IBM's Ralph L. Hollis built a high-speed micro-robot hand that can position parts to within 0.2 micrometer, increasing robotic precision more than 100-fold. This "fine positioner" contains just one stationary part and one moving armature, which face each other. Compressed air keeps the two parts separate and allows the armature to move without rubbing against the stationary part. A computer-driven electromagnetic field then controls vertical, horizontal and rotational motion of tools held in the armature. IBM uses this robot at several factories, says Hollis, who described the new device at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Nice, France.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:new transistor is narrower than a human hair
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jun 13, 1992
Previous Article:Radical protection for athletes.
Next Article:Microscope's misleading tips.

Related Articles
The fastest transistors in the world.
Closing the biosensor gap.
Germanium speeds transistor.
Poll Indicates We're Not Quite Ready For Robots.
Shrinking toward the ultimate transistor; electronic devices go atomic: is this really the end?
Fiber transistor may lead to woven circuits.
Lighthearted transistor: electronic workhorse moonlights as laser.
Built for speed: novel transistor design spurns limits.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters