X-Message-Number: 21059
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 05:18:34 EST
Subject: electronics generations

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In the sixties it was common to talk about computer generations:
1st the valve technology, then the transistor one, 3rd the integrated 
circuit. For example the IBM 360 was the 3rd generation computer of the 
sixties. Memory was provided by small ferrite rings, when fet transistors 
took the place, there was talks about the 3.5 generation. As nothing more 
came in sight, the generation idea was slowly sunk.

I think the concept can be lived again in a more broad frame to gauge the 
pace of progress in the information processing domain. So I'll introduce here 
the electronics generations.

For me, electronics started when the idea of radio wave came to the mind of 
some pioneers and the first generators and detectors where built. The best 
generator of that epoch was the electric arc discharge. It was the tool of 
Hertz, Branly and some genius as Tesla. The main drawback of that system was 
the broad band wave generation without selectivity. It could transmit a Morse 
code message, but not the voice for example.

That first generation ended in 1907 with the invention of the triode valve. 
It was the first technology of consumer electronics and thrived until the 
sixties in radio and TV set. Our cathode ray tubes are the last survivor of 
that era.

The third generation was born in 1948 with the invention of the transistor, 
this was the age of solid state electronics. Less than ten years later, came 
the integrated circuit from Fairchild. That 3rd generation has seen up to now 
the digital processing, the fet, the mos, cmos, transistors on germanium and 
then Silicon monocrystals. Memory chips and microprocessors are now in the 
billions of integrated elements on a single Silicon crystal. Next will come 
the ballistic transistor where electrons pass the gate without collision with 
the ion matrix. The seep gain may be one to ten with less thermal 
dissipation. These systems will enter into play near 10 GHz and will go up to 
100 GHz or more. They will sustain the Moore's law for 5 or 6 years at least. 
That 3rd generation will come to an end in 20 years or so.

Next will be the excitronics: When very high current density are produced in 
a small circuit, electrons start to act collectively, they form a gas with 
strange properties. Quasi particles, collectively called excitons are 
produced and can propagate in the gas. There are phonons, the sound wave 
particle, solitons, polarons, magneton,...Even spin, the intrinsic momentum 
has its wave, the spin wave. Today, there are some researches to use spin 
wave. This is the "spintronics". Spintronics could be the first of 
excitronics to enter the technological arena. The actual estimates on the 
limit of excitronics go up to 100 terahertz, well in the infrared 
electromagnetic spectrum. Looking at second and third generation life span, 
it could endure nearly until the century end.

What next? can we look farther in time? Yes, and no: there is no researches 
and no investments on anything beyond that, so that technological future is 
not determined. Will it fulfill the needs of long life? of cryonics recovery? 
May be, may be not. There is an opportunity: we can say: The future will so, 
with such and such technologies. We can invent the future. How that? simply 
by starting a research on a technology. The results will bring more 
researches on the subject and the snow ball effect will impose, by mere 
inertia the progress course.

My proposal is a technology very different from the actual solid state one 
seen in the 3rd and coming 4th generation. It is about plasma sheets trapped 
over the surface of an aluminosilicate crystal. The plasma trap is built from 
a set of standing waves. laser radiation's freeze the ion matrix and 
accelerate electrons. Electric field may be enormous, up to 10^16 volt/m. I 
would call that generation the micro first, because it is a microscopic 
version of the first electric spark generator. With micrometer sized free 
electron lasers, the processing power would extend up to the x-rays, in the 
10^18 Hertz: One billion gigahertz.

My proposal is to short circuit the 4th generation, or at least to create the 
micro first in parallel. I am interested in it because that technology is the 
key to such device as phase conjugate x-ray mirrors requested for x-ray brain 

Yvan Bozzonetti.


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