Global Technology - January 2019

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Our collective obsession with all things electronic is driving a dramatic daily increase in the world’s power consumption.  In fact, according to studies from the Semiconductor Research Corporation, if we continue on pace with our current ever-increasing energy consumption, by the year 2035, we will use the equivalent of today’s worldwide energy production just to run our computers.

In an effort to prevent this looming energy crisis, Robert Wolkow an atomic physicist at The University of Alberta has devoted his career to developing greener, faster, smaller digital technology. Research recently published by his lab in Nature Electronics points to tangible solutions that technology developers can implement now to save energy.

Wolkow says, “The atom-scale devices we are developing create a new basis for computer electronics that will be able to run at least 100 times faster or operate at the same speed as today but using 100 times less energy.”

Wolkow’s research, supported by the National Research Council of Canada and a firm called Quantum Silicon Inc. demonstrates the option to increase speed and reduce power using highly scalable binary atomic silicon logic.

According to Wolkow, “It’s still a familiar binary computer.”  So, you can still run today’s programs. “The insides are just a lot better. And because our components are made of silicon, they make a straightforward marriage of the new atomic-scale technology with the standard CMOS technology that powers today’s electronics, providing an easy entryway to market.”


Nature Electronics, December 2018, “Binary Atomic Silicon Logic,” by Taleana Huff, et al.  © 2018 Springer Nature Publishing AG.  All rights reserved.

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For several years, Business Briefings has been monitoring breakthrough research at Australia’s Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology.  These researchers have been investigating new ways to scale-up qubits utilizing the so-called “spin-orbit coupling of atom qubits.”


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