IBM has demonstrated a technology which helps to improve the flow of electrons through its transistors, and can help to improve transistor performance. When a special layer of strained germanium (an element) is applied directly to the channel of the transistor, additional space for electrons to flow within the channel is opened. The result will be smaller and more powerful processors in the next decade, which should perform some three times better than anything currently in existence.
"Researchers have long known that germanium is a better conductor of electricity than silicon, but they had not figured out how to build higher concentrations of germanium into chips using conventional techniques. IBM has accomplished this, and has also figured out how to strain the germanium layer in order to further improve performance."
These kinds of developments are very important to future CPU performance, as scientists are finding it harder and harder to shrink transistors to smaller sizes. However, it seems unlikely that this technology will hit the mainstream until at least 2013.