A research project has begun which could lead to the development of computers that run 500 times faster than machines today.
The £550,000 three-year project, led by the University of Bath, aims to develop a system that can carry an electric signal in silicon chips without any need for wiring. This would overcome the limitations of linking computer components with electrical wiring.
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Four universities in the UK and a university and research centre in Belgium and France are involved in the project, which will investigate the production of microwave energy on a small scale by firing electrons into magnetic fields produced in semiconductors a few atoms wide and layered with magnets.
Alain Nogaret, of the University of Bath's Department of Physics said, "If this research is successful, it could make computers with wireless semiconductors a possibility within five or 10 years of the end of the project.
"Then computers could be made anything from 200 to 500 times quicker and still be the same size."
The process, called inverse electron spin resonance, uses the magnetic field to deflect electrons and modify their magnetic direction. The resulting oscillation of the electrons makes them produce microwave energy which can then be used to broadcast electric signals in free space without the weakening caused by wires.