Transistors and Nanotechnology Essay


Transistors and Nanotechnology

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Transistors and Nanotechnology have combined in making devices like computers, mobile phones and others to perform smarter - Transistors and Nanotechnology Essay introduction. The processor chips manufactured by Intel are housing a billion of transistors per chip. Recent developments have explained the ability of nanotechnology in transistors to make these devices more efficient not only in terms of performance but also in energy consumption. This paper aims on the contributions of the invention of transistors in the development of science particularly nanotechnology. This paper also provides a brief background on the transistor as well as the people behind its discovery and development today.


Background of the Transistor

Discovery and Development

William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain spearheaded the invention of the transistor in 1947. Before achieving the final product, they have undergone revisions and further tests. This lead to the creation of transistor radios and provided a huge lift for manufacturers of phones and computers. Sooner, the integrated circuit was developed in 1958 on two separate ideas by Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby. The integrated circuit increased the potential of transistors and sooner Intel launched the first microprocessor (4004) in 1971. This invention is as powerful as the ENIAC, the 30 ton computer built in 1946. (ScienCentral and American Institute of Physics, 1999)

Gordon Moore devised a trend know as the “Moore’s Law” explaining the growth of transistors (double) in a period of time (2 years). This trend continued at present and computer chips are expected to follow the same pattern in the future. Transistors are not only used in computers but can be also applied in home appliances. The so-called power transistors enable these appliances to consume less amount of energy which in return will also conserve energy, money, and the environment. Now, the application of nanotechnology[1] in creating the smallest chips up to date is being used by the two biggest computer chip manufacturers.


The Major Contributors

William Shockley

William Shockley was the one who invented the transistor along with John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain. This marvelous feat earned them the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1956. He was also the director of the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory where he worked with Gordon Moore, his colleague at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He earned his doctorate degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology after finishing a bachelor’s degree in Science at Caltech.

Shockley was involved mostly on research and development at his early career. He first worked at the Bell Labs and there, he earned his first patent work on electron multipliers. During the Second World War, he assumed the research director’s position for Anti-submarine Warfare Operations Research Group. He also became the consultant of the Secretary of War wherein he met high-ranking officials in Pentagon and White House.

Aside of the Nobel Prize, Shockley received many awards during his time. He is Medal of Merit recipient for his contribution in the war. He also received recognitions from the Institute of Radio Engineers, American Physical Society, and National Academy of Sciences.


Gordon Moore

Gordon Moore is one of the pioneers of the biggest manufacturer of transistors in the world today, the Intel. Prior to that, he was a major stockholder of Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation[2], also a transistor maker. His co-owners were his co-workers in Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory whose founder William Shockley was a Nobel Prize for Physics recipient for inventing the transistor. Moore earned doctorate degrees in physics and chemistry at California Institute of Technology. (Gordon, 2001)

Moore, together with his colleagues founded Intel in 1968 and held the position of vice presidency. He became the president and Chief Executive Officer in 1975 until 1979 when he was elected as chairman and CEO of Intel. He continued spearheading Intel operations until 1987 and in 1997 he was named as chairman emeritus. (Intel)

Moore’s Law is one of his major contributions in chip-making industry. He observed in 1965 that the number of transistors put in the integrated circuits doubled every two years. This guided the semiconductor companies in reducing the cost per transistor by decreasing the size of transistors. (Intel) The recently produced computer chips contained around a billion number of transistors.

Importance of Transistors

When transistors and integrated circuits were introduced in the public, no one really appreciated their importance until today. The fact that investors of microprocessors pulled out because they think it will be a waste of money is another manifestation that these great inventions were undervalued before. (ScienCentral Inc and American Institute of Physics, 1999)

Seeing Intel’s and AMD’s (Advance Micro Devices) new releases of processors consisting of a billion transistors, the early predictions of scientists[3] were offset. The invention of transistors enabled radios, computers, and phones to become portable and mobilized. Also in relation with Gordon Moore’s Law, transistors are now becoming smaller than before that makes computers, cell phones and other technological devices perform faster, better and more efficient.  Not only that, the nanotechnology[4] in transistor-making can also decrease the costs of making chips which enables the manufacturers like Intel and AMD to sell more at lesser prices. Lund University (2008) reports a current development of transistors that are energy efficient which means lower energy consumption for computers, mobile devices and others. This model uses indium arsenide which permits more electron movement as compared to the traditional silicon. However, producing transistors of this kind will be limited but with the use of nanotechnology, the production will be easier.


Assessment and Conclusion

The birth of transistors paved way for the creation of portable devices like mobile phones, laptop computers, radios and other handheld devices. It also eliminated computers that were too big and too heavy for human usage. William Shockley and his company were the proponents of this marvelous invention that resulted in the creation of integrated circuits, microprocessors and other micro chips. Gordon Moore who is the co-founder of Intel, the biggest manufacturer of computer chips, did not see himself to be that successful today when he was still working in the Shockley Lab. And with nanotechnology, anything that seems to be impossible will be possible.

Current science reports and researches have shown that indeed, nanotechnology for creating microchips with billion transistors is really attainable. These developments are not only making these devices perform faster and better but also can save energy for the end-users. For manufacturers of computer chips like Intel and AMD, these innovations can bring more profits because of decreased costs of production and increase in sales because of more chips are now sold for lesser prices.




Moore Gordon (2001, December 3). The Accidental Entrepreneur. Nobelprize. Retrieved March 24, 2009 from

Intel. Executive Biography, Gordon Moore. Retrieved March 24, 2009 from

Lund University (2008, April 26). First Transistor Using Nanotechnology Is 50 Times More Energy Efficient Than Current Models. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from­ /releases/2008/04/080424212327.htm

Invanhoe Broadcast (2006, June 01). Nanotechnology? What is that?! Engineers Create Exhibits on Achievements, Promise. Discoveries and Breakthroughs in Science. American Institute of Physics. Retrieved March 26, 2009 from

ScienCentral and American Institute of Physics (1999). Invention of the Microprocessor. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 25 March 2009 from

William B. Shockley. (Biography). Nobelprize. Retrieved March 24, 2009 from


[1] Nanotechnology is a technology which works on the scale of molecules. There are 1 billion nanometers (nm) in 1 meter (m). LED (light-emitting diode) technology and self-cleaning windows are some of the products of Nanotechnology.
[2] Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation was formed by the “Traitorous Eight” from the Shockley Laboratory. Those are Julius Blank, Victor Grinich, Jean Hoerni, Eugene Kleiner, Jay Last, Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce, and Sheldon Roberts.
[3] In 1961, scientists predicted that no transistor will be smaller than 10 millionths of a meter. (ScienCentral Inc and American Institute of Physics, 1999)

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