Science Questions

How small will electronic components get?

Sat, 8th Sep 2007

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Question

Mark, Bletchlety asked:

How small will electronic components get? There must be a limit to the size they can become?

Answer

There definitely is a limit, because if you get too small then electrons can 'tunnel' between two wires which are too close together.  That limit is somewhere around 10-50 atoms wide.  There's a thing called 'redwall', where the semiconductor industry are making smaller and smaller microchips, with increasing numbers of transistors on them, but they predict that around 2012 they will no longer be able to make chips any smaller.

However, new technologies may yet find ways to shrink things even further.

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