Scientists in England have created the world’s smallest transistor, the BBC reports. At 1 atom thick and 10 atoms wide, it could be the key to creating microchips beyond the power of silicon. The transistor is made of graphene, a single layer of graphite and an excellent conductor of electricity. And unlike with silicon, the smaller a graphene transistor is, the faster it works.
“It is already superior to silicon by an order of magnitude,” says a scientist involved. Companies like Intel have plans to improve silicon chips until 2020; at that point, they’ll be too small to take further. But graphene transistors could be the next step. Now, experts are working on creating graphene sheets large enough to use in making chips. “I do believe we will find the technology to do this,” says the researcher.