A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have devised a cheap method to make impressively fast and flexible silicon-based transistors. Their technique involves using beams of electrons to create reusable molds of the patterns they want, as well as a very, very tiny knife to etch minuscule trenches into those patterns. The result is a small, bendy transistor -- though not as small as a the Navy's single-molecule design -- that can transmit data wirelessly and has the potential to operate at a whopping 110 gigahertz. In other words, it's capable of some extremely fast computing and could lead to wearables a lot more powerful than those available today.
Lead researcher Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma says it's possible to scale up the manufacturing process for mass production. Manufacturers could, for instance, use rolling pins to stamp the patterns onto rolls of flexible plastic. Ma and his team, who have published their study in Scientific Reports, said their process is ready for use in the real world:
"We don't want to make [flexible electronics] the way the semiconductor industry does now. Our step, which is most critical for roll-to-roll printing, is ready."