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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Will The Vacuum Tube Return To Electronics In An Improved Form?

Could Modern, Nanoscale Vacuum Tubes Replace Transistors?

Joel Hruska | June 7, 2016

[Blogger's note: Vacuum Tubes are often called valves in the U.K. The vacuum tube was a standard component of amplified radios and all television sets in the 1950s through the 1970s when transistors replaced most of them and provided lower power consumption, less heat and faster switching times. Only special purpose equipment, often high power and high voltage, continued to use them. Manufacturers stopped making them. In the 1970s most airport radar equipment still relied on vacuum tubes which had to be obtained from the Soviet Union, the last large-scale manufacturer. This was seen an defense vulnerability. The early 1950s UNIVAC computer employed personnel whose entire day job was replacing burned out vacuum tubes in a building the size of a city block.]
One of the topics we’ve covered multiple times at ExtremeTech is the difficulty of continuing to scale semiconductor technology, and the related problem of improving chip performance without increasing clock speed. While Intel and other manufacturers continue to search for long-term solutions to this problem, no known next-generation technology is expected to restart silicon scaling and allow for a return to traditional clock speed gains.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology think they may have a solution to this problem — one that involves returning to a very old technology to solve the problems of existing methods. Vacuum tubes, according to Dr. Axel Scherer, could be key to improving transistor performance and lowering power consumption.

Old style vacuum tubes, not the proposed new nanoscale ones. Source:

<more at; related articles and links: (The return of the vacuum tube? May 28, 2013) and (Boffins develop nanoscale vacuum tube running at .46 THz. Power hungry but radiation resistant relic could make comeback … in spaaaace. May 24, 2012)>

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