Science: Breaking A Barrier

Computer-on-a-chip may become even faster

Miraculous as it may be, the tiny silicon "chip" that is at the heart of today's electronics revolution has certain drawbacks. Crammed with thousands of individual circuits and components, this computer-on-a-chip is only about a quarter the size of a thumbnail. Yet despite the minuscule dimensions of these circuits, the time required for electric current to traverse them places a limit on how speedily the little computer can make its calculations.

Now the wizards at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., who launched the microelectronic age with the invention of the transistor 31 years ago, have broken...

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