Moore's Law, the central driver of our age, is based on the idea that circuit lines can be drawn ever-closer together.
But there has to be a limit. The atomic scale. You can't make a circuit smaller than an atom.
The limit has been reached.
A Russian-Japanese team has created a quantum dot amplifier, an "artificial atom" that can amplify an electronic signal, a central electronic function. The announcement follows by three years the same team's creation of a quantum dot laser.
Quantum dots are often called artificial atoms because, while they are made up of multiple atoms, they can be treated in theory like single atoms, and their electron shells can be manipulated.
The ultimate goal of quantum dot researchers is the construction of a quantum computer -- replicating all of a computer's functions on a nano-level. But the dots have other uses as well. As I wrote here in January they can make nifty solar cells, too.
We are some years away from true quantum computing, or industrial scaled quantum solar cells, but we are getting closer every day.
The implications of the work are enormous. And the manufacturing technologies needed to bring these products to market will be quite different from current semiconductor manufacturing. It will involve chemistry rather than photography.
But it's going to happen.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com