University of Utah electrical engineers test a microplasma transistor by applying a voltage through four electrodes touching the surface of the transistor. Plasma is a charged gas that conducts electricity, seen here as a pink glowing light. Unlike typical transistors, the Utah microplasma transistor uses an air gap that conducts ions and electrons from a helium plasma once a voltage is applied. The new devices are designed to withstand ionizing radiation. Credit: Dan Hixson, College of Engineering, University of Utah.
Read: Tiny Transistors for Extreme Environs 
University of Utah electrical engineers Massood Tabib-Azar and Pradeep Pai fabricated the smallest plasma transistors that can withstand high temperatures and ionizing radiation found in a nuclear reactor. They could be used in robots sent into a damaged reactor facility and could keep working during a nuclear attack. Someday they also might make it possible for smartphones to act as a battlefield X-ray machines or for other devices to measure air quality in real time. Credit: Dan Hixson, College of Engineering, University of Utah.
For more information visit http://www.utah.edu .
A study of the new transistors by Tabib-Azar and electrical engineering doctoral student Pradeep Pai appears online Thursday, March 20 in the journal IEEE Electron Device Letters, published by...