Compound May Be 'Next Silicon': Scientists
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2009 11:32 AM CDT
A chip containing the entire Hebrew Bible is displayed at the Technion University in Haifa, Sunday, April 26, 2009.   (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
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(Newser) – Stanford physicists have discovered a chemical compound that could replace silicon and transform the computing industry, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Jet-black bismuth telluride has a unique ability, researchers discovered: Electrons can travel across it without resistance, losing no energy. So far the material can only carry small currents, but the findings suggest it could someday carry far more information than silicon.

Team members say they’re confident the material, grown in unique furnaces on campus, could lead to new “spintronic” devices—ones that harness the spinning of electrons to carry information. But one computer historian urged caution. “It’s exciting to think about potential applications for a new discovery,” he said, but “silicon has had its death knell sounded for the last two decades.”