The total conductance per unit area is similar
for both tungsten (W) and gold (Au). However,
by joining the two highly conducting metals,
one finds a conductance density that is about
4 times lower of either material individually.
(Credit: David J. Olivera et al./PNAS)

A challenge facing designers of future computer chips

November 8, 2012

To build the computer chips of the future, designers will need to understand how an electrical charge behaves when it is confined to metal wires only a few atom-widths in diameter.

Researchers at at McGill University General Motors R&D, have shown that electrical current could be drastically reduced when wires from two dissimilar metals meet. The surprisingly sharp reduction in current reveals a significant challenge that could shape material choices and device design in the emerging field of nanoelectronics.

As feature sizes in future chips shrink to the level of atoms, the resistance to current no longer increases at a consistent rate as devices shrink; instead the resistance “jumps around,” displaying the counterintuitive effects of quantum mechanics, says McGill Physics professor Peter Grütter.

Read more: A challenge facing designers of future computer chips | KurzweilAI.

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