The old theological question of how many angels could fit on the head of a pin has become the technological question of how many circuits could fit there. Computer developers are obsessed with speed, constantly seeking ways to promote faster processing. Some of the most promising directions already discussed are RRISC chips and parallel processing. Some other research paths being explored are the following:
# Gallium arsenide: silicon is the material of choice today for microprocessors, but there are other contenders. One is gallium arsenide which allows electrical impulses t be transmitted several times faster than silicon can gallium arsenide also requires less power than silicon chips and thus can operate at higher temperatures.However chips designers at present are unable to squeeze as they can with silicon.
# Superconductors: silicon we stated is a semiconductor; electricity flows through the material with some resistance. This leads to heat buildup and the risk of circuits melting down. A superconductor, by contrast, is material that allows electricity to flow through it without resistance. The superconducting materials so far discovered are considered impractical because they are superconductors only at subzero temperatures. Nevertheless, the search continues for a superconductor at room temperature which would lead to circuitry 100 times faster than today’s silicon chips.
# Opto-electronic processing: Today’s computers are electronic; tomorrow’s might be optoelectronic-using light, not electricity. With optical-electronic technology, a machine using lasers lenses and mirrors would represent the on-and-off codes of data with pulses of light.
Light is much faster than electricity. Indeed, fiber-optic networks, which consist of hair-thin glass fibers, can move information at speeds 3000 times faster than conventional networks. However, the signals get bogged down when they have to be processed by silicon chips. Optoelectronics chips would remove that bottleneck.
#Nanotechnology: Nanotechnology, nanoelectronics, nanostructures, nanofabrication all star5t with a measurement known as a nanometer. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter, which means we are operating at the level of atoms and molecules. A human hair is approximately 100000 nanometers in diameter.
Nanotechnology is a science based on using molecules to create tiny machines to hold data or perform tasks. Experts attempt to do ‘’nanofabrication’’ by building tiny ‘’nanostructures’’ in atom or molecule at a time. When applied to chips and other electronic devices the field is called ‘’nanoelectronics’’.
# Biotechnology: another possibility is using biotechnology to grow cultures of bacteria such as one that when exposed to light emits a small electrical charge. The properties of this ‘’biochip’’ could be used to represent the on/off digital signals used in computing.
Imagine millions of nanomachines grown from microorganisms processing information at the speed of light and sending it over far-reaching pathways. What kind of changes could we expect with computers like these?