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New material may be next silicon

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Palo Alto, Calif. (UPI) Jun 16, 2009
Researchers at Stanford University in California say the chemical compound bismuth telluride could become the basis of more powerful computers.

The physicists found bismuth telluride has an interesting property -- it allows electrons to travel through it without losing energy, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

"We're at the very beginning of understanding this new class of materials," said Yulin Chen of the Stanford Institute for Materials & Energy Science. "The next step is to apply what we've learned -- to see if it can be fabricated and made functional."

Computers have become faster, more powerful and smaller during recent years. Engineers have been able to double the number of components on a silicon chip every two years.

But experts say silicon technology may reach its limits and are looking for a possible successor. One possibility is known as spintronics, or using electrons' spin to carry information.

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Study determines strength of rammed earth
Durham, England (UPI) Jun 9, 2009
British engineers say the secret of sandcastle construction could help revive an ancient building technique that uses rammed earth. Durham University researchers said they conducted a study into the strength of rammed earth, which is growing in popularity as a sustainable building method. They determined that as a sandcastle needs a little water to stand up, the strength of rammed earth ... read more

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