According to Moore’s Law, computer processing power doubles every two years. Although it’s not a law of physics, engineers deem it a professional responsibility, but they’re starting to reach the limits of conventional materials: Silicon channels just can’t carry enough electrical current. To keep it flowing, IBM announced in July it has developed a new silicon germanium alloy and — even more significant, says IBM engineer Mukesh Khare — integrated a short-wavelength laser used to etch the circuits. Known as extreme ultraviolet lithography, it’s 10 times finer than current techniques, channeling more than 20 billion switches into a chip about the size of a fingernail.
[This article originally appeared in print as "Micro Microchips."]