Feeds

Boffins develop nanoscale vacuum tube running at .46 THz

Power hungry but radiation resistant relic could make comeback … in spaaaace

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Researchers from NASA and Korea’s National Nanofab Center have cooked up nanoscale vacuum tubes, potentially bringing some of the earliest electronic devices back into the mainstream of technology.

As detailed in a new paper from Applied Physics Letters, the tiny tubes were manufactured using the same processes applied to silicon semiconductors. An important tweak sees a small cavity etched into silicon, bordered by a source, a gate and a drain. The cavity does not enclose a vacuum, but at 150 nanometres across is so small that electrons flowing through it are unlikely to bump into any other matter.

That setup means electrons can pass unimpeded, instead of having to struggle their way through silicon. Test rigs researchers have created show that data therefore screams along at up to .46 terahertz. The price of this power is power: firing up a device made of the tiny tubes needs 10 volts of juice, compared to one volt for a conventional transistor.

Because the circuits in the devices rely on the gap, they can also work well in nasty spots like space where radiation can knock physical circuits into literal disarray. The researchers are therefore rather keen on nano vacuum tubes as a way to harden computers on spacecraft, which today must pack all sorts of bulky and heavy radiation shielding.

As ever, while the researchers are chuffed with their lab work, no-one is willing to suggest a timeframe in which it will be possible to nip out to an electronics retailer and plonk down some cash for a nano-vacuum gadget. Assuming, of course, retailers still exist when the tiny tubes make it to market. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Who wants to be there as history is made at the launch of our LOHAN space project?
Two places available in the chase plane above the desert
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.