Scientists say they see exciting potential for the world's first high-temperature su-perconducting transistor in the development of more advanced super-computers, microwave components and other electronics.

The new transistor was developed at the University of Wisconsin and Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque and operates at a relatively high temperature of minus 340 degrees Fahrenheit, the scientists said Monday.While superconductive compounds that function at similarly high temperatures have been known for years, the transistor marks the first successful attempt to use such materials to create a transistor.

The Department of Energy also backed the project, which now has advanced to the installation of the transistor into a functioning electronic circuit.

Transistors, often the size of pinheads, function in supercomputers and other electronic devices as the switches that control current. They also are used to amplify signals.

Superconductivity, the loss of all resistance to electrical current, occurs in dozens of materials when they are chilled to minus 452 degrees Fahrenheit, or close to absolute zero.

Devices that become superconductive at higher, more easily achievable temperatures would allow more practical applications and could open the way to faster supercom-puters, microwave components and other electronics products.

The new transistor is etched in a thin film of thalium and supercon-ducting copper oxide and is chilled to the temperature of liquid nitrogen.

Conventional transistors use alteration in the voltage to control current. The new transistor uses changes in the current to control voltage.