Rajit Manohar, 33
Taking the clocks out of computer chips
The different functions of a computer chip are synchronized by an onboard clock, but that means the fastest operations cant pass on their data until the slowest have finished. Rajit Manohar, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, speeds up chips and lowers power consumption by removing the clock; his chips are 10 times more energy efficient than previous clockless chips. Instead of a separate clock network carrying a global timing signal, Manohars chips use short wires to carry signals that alert successive operations when the previous operations have finished. Last year, Manohar also built the first low-power processor for sensor networks: "You only activate the part of the chip thats doing the work you need," he says. Such sensors could run on the same batteries for years instead of weeks.