James D. Meindl, the director of the Microelectronics Research Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology, says there is a limit to the miniaturization of the electronic components we use in computers and other products. The limit is absolute temperature. Meindl and collaborator Jeffrey A. Davis came to their conclusion by studying the limit two ways. First, they studied the minimum energy required for producing a distinguishable binary transition. They also examined the minimum energy required for sending the resulting signal along a communications channel. The limit for both studies was the same and expressed as E(min) = (In2)kT. In the equation, T is absolute temperature, k is Boltzmann's constant, and In2 is the natural log of two. Although this fundamental limit provides a theoretical stopping point for electronics designers, Meindl says we'll never get close to it because electronic signals move through interconnects no faster than the speed of light and because quantum mechanics theory introduces uncertainties. So, what's next for microelectronics?. No one knows for certain, but Meindl says that's what his nanotechnology research is trying to answer.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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