Around 2020 or soon afterward, Moore’s law will gradually cease to hold true and Silicon Valley may slowly turn into a rust belt unless a replacement technology is found. Transistors will be so small that quantum theory or atomic physics takes over and electrons leak out of the wires. For example, the thinnest layer inside your computer will be about five atoms across. At that point, according to the laws of physics, the quantum theory takes over. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that you cannot know both the position and velocity of any particle. This may sound counterintuitive, but at the atomic level you simply cannot know where the electron is, so it can never be confined precisely in an ultrathin wire or layer and it necessarily leaks out, causing the circuit to short-circuit. According to the laws of physics, eventually the Age of Silicon will come to a close, as we enter the Post-Silicon Era.
I love reading articles that remind me of my freshman engineering courses! 2020 seemed so far away back then… I wonder if those manufacturing cities in China are freaking out yet. Or are they already working a replacement, plastic perhaps?
I have a freind from high school who’s been working for Sandia and other places for about 20 years now on this very problem. It’s important to remember Moore’s law does not specify silicon. It says “The number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.” We’ll have to leave silicon, but that doesn’t mean that Moore’s law will necessarily ”gradually cease to hold true,” only that we’ll have to innovate in certain ways to keep it going. This still could prove to be the case.