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Hybrid race car of transistors debuts

Fast device requires very little energy

2:20pm, August 8, 2013

Combining the engines of a Ferrari and a Honda Civic would not lead to a fast, fuel-efficient car. Yet the simple trick of coupling a power-sipping transistor to a high-speed one has created a transistor that excels in both categories without any obvious weaknesses.

“This is a great advancement,” says Adrian Ionescu, a nanoelectronics engineer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. “And we already have all the materials needed to build it, so I think they can very quickly implement it in industry.” The new transistor could soon find its way into the flash memory chips that store data in computers, tablets and smartphones, Ionescu says.

Transistors, particularly a variety called metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors, or MOSFETs, are building blocks of the electronic age. They have gates that rapidly open and close to control the flow of electric current within microprocessors and memory chips.

For decades,

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