The computing world has always relied on advances in semiconductors. Over the decades, smaller and more efficient transistor designs have produced faster, more powerful, more energy-efficient microchips. This has fueled incredible advances in everything from supercomputing and clouds to smartphones, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality, additive fabrication, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The march toward more sophisticated microprocessors has continued unabated for decades. However, Moore's Law, which states the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every one-and-a-half to two years, has begun to slow in recent years. The reason? It has become more difficult to use MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors) scaling techniques to achieve continued miniaturization. Many chips now contain 20 billion or more switches. Engineers are running into enormous challenges as they reach the physical limits of existing technology.