ORNL researchers have built a "smart" transistor that takes advantage of their recent materials breakthrough in depositing a high-quality film of barium titanate on germanium. The device, which is the world's most powerful ferroelectric transistor, is "smart" because of barium titanate's semi-permanent internal field. Depending on whether it's up or down, the field either pulls up or pushes away electrical charges in the germanium substrate, facilitating or resisting the flow of electrical current (and making an "on" or "off" transistor). Unlike the case with a silicon transistor, the field on the new transistor stays up or down all the time, so no external power is needed unless the field must be flipped. In addition, all the information in the "on" and "off" transistors is retained even when the power is turned off. The new transistor could pack in much more information than a silicon transistor, making possible a low-power gigabyte chip that could serve as the hard disk drive of a laptop computer and greatly extend the lifetimes of laptop batteries.