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Hands-on at this exhibit

  • Electroplate and keep your fingerprints in gold.
  • Understand how computers work with our ‘water-transistor’ module.
  • Operate an experiment demonstrating how supercritical fluids work.

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Electroplating from supercritical fluids could deliver a new wave of nanoscale computing devices.

 
Mobile phone not small enough? Take tech even smaller in this brilliant video exploring revolutionary techniques using 'supercritical fluids'.

Our lives have been transformed by the ability to build ever smaller and more powerful devices. But the continued shrinkage is now limited by conventional methods to manufacture computer chips. Our exhibit introduces a revolutionary technique using ‘supercritical fluids’ to build ultra-small circuitry.

People want ever smaller, more powerful, more efficient computing devices. To deliver this we need to move on from cutting out computer chips with lasers, a method that won’t allow us to go much smaller. Supercritical fluids (SCFs) are highly compressed gases, in which we can dissolve materials such as Tin or Germanium. Unlike liquids, SCFs have no surface tension, so we can use them to deposit metal atoms into cylindrical pores that are just a few nanometres across. In this way, atom-by-atom, we can build the nanowires needed for tiny computers.

Lead image: New techniques using electrical currents to grow materials could create tiny tech the size of atoms. Credit: University of Southampton.