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Transistor Made From Bose-Einstein Condensate 80

Posted by kdawson
from the cold-circuitry dept.
holy_calamity writes "US researchers have made a transistor from a Bose-Einstein condensate. They claim it to be the first step towards 'atomic circuits' that run with atoms instead of electrons. 'A small number of atoms can be used to control the flow of a large number of atoms, in much the same way that an FET uses a gate voltage to control a large electric current,' says lead research Alex Zozulya. The abstract of their paper is freely available."
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Transistor Made From Bose-Einstein Condensate

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  • TFA (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:29PM (#17818668)
    TFA said "could be made" not "made"

    Fscking slashtards
  • More probably faster (Score:5, Informative)

    by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) * <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:29PM (#17818672) Homepage Journal
    More physics, more chemistry...

    Electrons are areas of probability density for energy.

    Photons are discrete packets of energy.

    Energy is related to mass, most commonly, as E=mc^2.

    In conventional circuits there is a signal passed by energy. That energy is passed in bulk as the movement of electricity, or the flux of the electron fields around the atoms which make up the conducting wire.

    If one could deal in smaller amounts of energy--say the quanta required to excite an electron from one energy level to the next--then one is dealing arguably in portions of electrons. Arguably.

    It's the same principle as the recent research using fiberobtic materials for processor fabrication. If one uses light, rather than electricity, then friction is minimized, energy lost to heat is minimized, and the bulk signal of photon flux can be modulated more quickly than the bulk signal of electron flux.

    E=mc^2. It's all the same. You can pass bowling balls or you can pass bee-bees.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:29PM (#17818674) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it's determinism or something. Electrons jump tracks and when you speed up your switching rates, meaning you're controlling (and switching on) smaller groups of electrons, you end up with problems with electrons jumping the track. IIRC the DEC Alpha was the first CPU in which this problem cropped up and they ended up making two 45 degree turns in their paths instead of a single 90 degree turn for the first time. This comes at a cost in real estate. Perhaps it would ultimately provide an improvement in overall performance, or at least performance per unit of area.
  • by SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:37PM (#17818746) Journal
    What I gather FTA and my formal electronics training, electron based transistors control electric flow as if the electrons were a fluid substance, kind of like water, using electrical charges as the method of control. That electron flow continues to do work in the circuit. A very similar, yet different idea is inferred by using atoms. It appears that a continuous flow of electrons (continuous current drain) isn't needed for atom based transistors. I don't think gobs of atoms flow in such a circuit. Just the mere act of controlling atom flow could translate into a change of state that produces output: binary digits, waveforms, and other control circuits, etc. This will be done at a much smaller scale.
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @05:39PM (#17819758)
    It is not the movement of the medium (electrons or atoms); it is the speed the effect across the medium.

    <NUMB3RS> Take for example a croquet ball. You could hit one ball with enough force to send it 15 feet to the hoop, but it will have to physically traverse that whole distance. But what if you had 10 feet of croquet balls in a row, one against another? You could hit the first ball with the same force and that force would be transmitted across the length of the adjoining balls faster than a lone ball could travel the same distance, causing the last ball to fly off the end. If you'd done both at the same time, the ball that was at the end of the chain will reach the hoop first before the lone ball could traverse more than a third of the distance. </NUMB3RS>
  • by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @06:18PM (#17820470)
    Just because a bunch of atoms don't have a net electrical charge doesn't mean there isn't a current flowing - it's just a current of electrically-neutral atoms (similar to the way water is net-electrically-neutral but still can form a current).

    As long as you've got some force (the pressure on the atoms) causing movement, there will be "work" done, which will cause energy usage (i.e., power) - whether or not there is an external electrical field involved. Basic Newtonian physics.
  • Re:Ah hah! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lurker2288 (995635) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @06:20PM (#17820532)
    Unless I'm mistaken, it's a reference to the old sci-fi show 'Sliders' in which boy genius Jerry O'Connell's Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky bridge machine sends him and a bunch of hapless comrades traveling from one parallel world to another with no way to get home.
  • by sentientbrendan (316150) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @06:54PM (#17821048)
    >>electrons are so much smaller (and hence faster) than atoms

    Electrons actually don't flow that fast through a wire. Less than a millimeter per second.

    The reason why electricity is so fast, isn't because electrons are fast. It is fast for the same reason that if you have a pipe filled with water, and you start pumping more water in one side, water gushes out the other side immediately a great distance away, even though water isn't flowing through the pipe that quickly. This happens because although the water is slow, the pressure increases along the pipe much faster. Water is more or less incompressible, so pressure on one side of the pipe causes each water molecule in succession to transfer the pressure through it into the next without moving the molecules closer together by much. Thus the water moves almost as a single block, the force itself being only limited by the speed of light (ideally).

    Similarly, although electrons are relatively slow to move, the voltage or electric pressure moves through the wire at the speed of light (practically at about 1/3 that speed). It is *this* speed barrier that we are currently running into in computer design, where the slowness of the speed of light over a few centimeters on a mother board will cause the signals in wires to get out of sync if one wire is slightly longer than the other. This happens there because although the voltage is moving incredibly fast, the clock rate of the circuitry is something like a billion oscillations a second. An electric pulse will only move slightly less than 10 centimeters in a billionth of a second.
  • Re:Old news (Score:2, Informative)

    by 1karmik1 (963790) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:50AM (#17824550) Homepage
    Rotflmao. The atomchip.com is a fake. this [atomchip.com] is the lens unit of a cdrom :D I'm pretty sure the equipment used for space projects is far more low power than high performance. That site hasn't the right look and the numbers that it spits out are just bullshit, at least imho. Those are just a bunch of random pics of random hardware with nifty custom stickers on it :D Besides, the WHOIS data looks suspect to me:

    Administrative Contact:
    WIPOI
    Shimon Gendlin
    21 Reed Lane
    Westbury, NY 11590
    US
    Phone: 516-368-4800
    Email: shimon_gendlin@msn.com
    Msn? come on..

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