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    Doug Barlage

    When he was 10, Doug Barlage started making electronic toys with store-bought transistors. Now at Intel, he is building the world’s smallest, fastest transistors for future computers. In particular, he has improved the devices’ gate oxide—a thin layer that prevents transistors from leaking current but limits their size and speed. Intel’s latest version is just three atoms thick. Until Barlage came along, researchers struggled with how to determine he electrical properties of materials so thin; some thought it pointless. Barlage forged ahead, getting more performance from advanced measuring tools than their manufacturers thought possible. “We drove right through the stop sign, ”he says.The results allowed Barlage to build the optimal gate- oxide configurations. Using designs made possible by Barlage’s measurements, Intel has twice set the world record for transistor size and speed, and a third record is close at hand. Coworkers describe Barlage as “meticulous and driven ”as he explores just how far he can push transistor technology