As electronics shrink to nanoscale, will they still be good as gold?

Gold still behaves like a solid at the nanoscale, says Stanford’s Wendy Gu. Credit: Unsplash/Aaron Munoz

Deep inside computer chips, tiny wires made of gold and other conductive metals carry the electricity used to process data.

But as these interconnected circuits shrink to nanoscale, engineers worry that pressure, such as that caused by thermal expansion when current flows through these wires, might cause gold to behave more like a liquid than a solid, making nanoelectronics unreliable. That, in turn, could force chip designers to hunt for new materials to make these critical wires.
But according to a new paper in Physical Review Letters, chip designers can rest easy. “Gold still behaves like a solid at these small scales,” says Stanford mechanical engineer Wendy Gu, who led a team that figured out how to pressurize gold particles just 4 nanometers in length—the…

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