It was not that many decades ago when advancements in computer technology developed the personal computer that took no more space than the top of the desk. This innovation revolutionized computing and replaced electricity-hungry mainframe models that once required an entire room to function. In recent years, electronics has become significantly greener and smaller, and will shrink even more in size in the near future.
The computing power of desktop PCs of yesteryear had to make way for large laptops and cell phone technology. Today, our mobile tablets and smartphones allow us to carry huge volumes of data and access to communication on devices small enough to fit into our pocket. While new advancements make our old computing technology seem quaint, today’s devices will soon be outdated too.
This is because electronic engineers and computer scientists have long known the fundamental limits of electronic technology have been quickly approaching. In an effort to build smaller, better, cheaper and faster technology, completely new methods of computing is required.
New advancements in the digital age are continuing the succession of cleaner and smaller technologies requiring less power. Scientists have long recognized the size and energy consumption of transistor circuits were limiting how far shrinking technology could go. However, advancing innovations have eliminated that stalemate. That is because scientists have developed atom-scale computing devices that operate on ultra-low power, making transistor circuits obsolete.
Why Smaller Is Better
While it is easy to understand how lightweight laptops far surpassed large bulky desktop computers, what is the advantage of going smaller in today’s electronics?
Smaller, greener lightweight materials have revolutionized the way we use electronic components in a variety of sectors including:
• Information technology
• Environmental sciences
• Homeland security
• and others
Without a doubt, nano-scale transistors are significantly more powerful, faster and exceedingly energy-efficient. Scientists believe they are on the verge of shrinking the size of a computer system’s entire memory on a tiny, single-chip.
Displays on smart phones, laptops, digital cameras, televisions and other devices use advanced nanotechnology in OLEDs (organic light emitting diodes). These polymer films provide brighter images on screens that display flat formats, with better picture density, lighter weight, wider viewing angles, longer lifetimes and significantly lower energy consumption.
Many electronics today maximize nanotechnology by using MRAM (magnetic random access memory) to safely and efficiently encrypt data. Saving crucial data during an unexpected computing shutdown is beneficial in a variety of applications. This could include gathering vehicle data during an accident, or to restore an existing device’s status to its previous condition after a data storage crash.
The smaller technology is beneficial in a variety of unexpected electronics including:
• Ultra-responsive hearing aids
• Flash memory chips in cameras/tablets/MP3 players
• Flexible e-reader displays
• Conductive inks used on printed electronics including smart packaging/smartcards/RFID
• More realistic video games
Cleaner, Greener Products
Scientists are challenged by meeting worldwide energy demands while taking steps to protect the environment. Continuously developing an array of affordable, renewable, clean energy products, scientists and entrepreneurs are helping to reduce toxicity burdens on the worldwide environment. Some of these products include:
• Nanotechnology Solar Panels – These devices are more efficient than traditional solar panels at converting sun rays into electricity. More affordable to manufacture and simpler to install, these nano-structured solar cells can be incorporated into discrete panels and placed nearly anywhere.
• Nanotechnology Batteries – Advanced nanotechnology is used to produce quick charging, less flammable, lighter weight and more-efficient batteries that maintain an electrical charge much longer.
• Nanotechnology Waste Conversion – Nano-scientists are developing a variety of options to convert wasted heat emitted from power plants, homes, automobiles and computers into free, usable electrical power.
Many entrepreneurs and scientists are moving forward in an effort to maximize the benefits of nanotechnologies. They are developing products that focus on a variety of environmental, safety and health problems. With new changes in technology, there will likely be ethical, legal and societal implications that will need to be addressed as more of our world uses nanotechnology in nearly every facet of our life.