Researchers at HP have created a molecular-scale device that they say could one day replace the transistors used in today’s computer chips. The technology could eventually be used to complement and even replace current transistors, which are expected to hit certain physical limits in the coming years that will prevent them from being made any smaller. The technology could lead to computers that are thousands of times more powerful than those that exist today. The researchers have developed a “crossbar latch” that consists of a single wire crossed by two other wires with molecular-scale junctions where the wires intersect. By applying a sequence of electrical impulses, the latch can perform the so-called NOT operation, which along with AND and OR is one of three basic operations that make up the primary logic of a computer circuit. The crossbar latch provides a key element needed for building computers using nanoscale devices that are relatively cheap and easy to build.

Researchers at HP have created a molecular-scale device that they say could one day replace the transistors used in today’s computer chips. The technology could eventually be used to complement and even replace current transistors, which are expected to hit certain physical limits in the coming years that will prevent them from being made any smaller. The technology could lead to computers that are thousands of times more powerful than those that exist today. The researchers have developed a “crossbar latch” that consists of a single wire crossed by two other wires with molecular-scale junctions where the wires intersect. By applying a sequence of electrical impulses, the latch can perform the so-called NOT operation, which along with AND and OR is one of three basic operations that make up the primary logic of a computer circuit. The crossbar latch provides a key element needed for building computers using nanoscale devices that are relatively cheap and easy to build.