What is Gallium and why is it already all over CES 2013?

what is gallium and it the hot new chemical in consumer tech

CES 2013 doesn’t even officially begin until Tuesday, but there’s already a front runner for hot new product of the show: gallium. What-ium? Gallium.

Also known as metallic element number 32, gallium is a soft, silvery “poor metal,” and we’re going to just go ahead and defer to Wikipedia or your high school chemistry teacher on an explanation for what that is. What matters to you, dear CES-obsessed reader, is that gallium has already figured prominently in several product announcements here in Vegas, and it apparently has near-magic properties that will make all your consumer tech more awesome in the coming year (every CES has one … where you at, magnesium?)

Up until recently, high definition televisions have been outfitted with amorphous silicon transistors to create the vibrant, rich colors on your television screens. The more amorphous silicon transistors you have, the more pixel density you’ll get on your display. However, these transistors contain a physical upper bound before they are no longer transparent behind your TV screen. This is why you generally never see television at higher than 1080p definition – any more transistors in an attempt to boost pixel density will just essentially ruin how the display looks.

New transistors containing gallium will now begin to replace silicon-based editions. Gallium’s semiconductor properties allow electrons to move faster at higher heat capacities and lower power consumption. When combined with other elements, such as Gallium nitride (GaN), Indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs), or Indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO), these chemical compounds can form smaller, thinner transistors that stack up higher than amorphous silicon – resulting in overall improved product specs. Televisions with IGZO transistors offer higher pixel density, light bulbs with GaN last up to years longer than traditional bulbs, and computer microchips with more InGaAs transistors can perform more functions. A better flow of electrons within gallium-based transistor also requires less refresh, enhancing power consumption and reducing interference.

So, take of all that, combine it into an electronic device, and these transistors make products like pixel-dense 4K Ultra-HD televisions from Sharp and LG possible. Additionally, tablets and smartphones will boast more accurate and sensitive touch capabilities, while GaN-based products like sound amplifiers and microwaves are more powerful while reducing in size. These are the properties manufacturers clearly want in gadgets: Thinner body, better screen, lower power consumption, and improved touch accuracy. And we’re willing to bet you want them too. It isn’t particularly cheap to produce – yet – but with greater scale and popularity, it may just spell a new era of displays in gadgets at home, in your palms, in cars or beyond.

Emerging Tech

This fully autonomous $400 drone folds like a book, follows you like a paparrazzo

Having a drone that could follow you everywhere while taking high-quality images without crashing has been a flight of fantasy. With ZeroZero's Hover 2, not only can you have a fully autonomous 4K selfie drone, you can have it for $400.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.

One of these monitors will look great next to your new MacBook Pro

Apple doesn't make its beloved Cinema Display monitors anymore, which makes finding the best monitor for the MacBook Pro more difficult. In this guide, we break down some of our favorites and offer something for every size and budget.
Emerging Tech

These Alexa-stuffed retro phones don’t listen until you take them off the hook

Looking for an Amazon Echo with a cool vintage touch? Los Angeles-based Grain Design is taking old, non-working antique phones and transforming them into amazing Alexa smart speakers.
Smart Home

This alarm clock uses targeted light and sound to wake you, but not your partner

The Wake v2 isn't like your typical bedside alarm. Instead, it wakes you by shining a soft light directly into your face, thereby not disturbing the person sharing a bed with you. Pretty smart, huh?
Emerging Tech

Believe it or not, this fire-proof exoskeleton isn’t designed for space marines

A company called Levitate Technologies has developed a fire-resistant upper body exoskeleton that’s capable of lowering exertion levels by up to 80 percent when you carry out manual work.
Emerging Tech

Intel’s new ‘neural network on a stick’ aims to unchain A.I. from the internet

To kick off its first developer conference in Beijing, Intel unveiled the second generation of its Neural Compute Stick -- a device that promises to democratize the development of computer vision A.I. applications.
Emerging Tech

Frogs regrow ‘paddle-like’ limbs when placed in a bioreactor

Frogs have partially regrown amputated limbs thanks to a bioreactor at Tufts University. By jump-starting tissue repair, the bioreactor helped the amphibians regenerate a bigger, more complete appendages than they usually do.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

China says it has developed a quantum radar that can see stealth aircraft

Chinese defense giant China Electronics Technology Group Corporation claims that it has developed a quantum radar that's able to detect even the stealthiest of stealth aircraft. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Glass orb packs all the constellations in the night sky into fancy desk ornament

Ever wanted to know more about the star constellations? A stunning new Kickstarter campaign, taking the form of a fancy desk ornament that re-creates the night sky in a glass orb, aims to help.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.