The first transistors were crude devices made of several different materials and many centimetres tall.
Over the last six decades, scientists have refined the devices and can now pack millions of them on to a square of silicon.
The onward progression of the silicon industry is known as Moore's Law, and states that the numbers of transistors on a chip will double every two years.
However, as the industry devices have shrunk, researchers have been forced to confront major technical obstacles.
In the latest generation of Intel chips, critical elements of the transistors, known as gate dielectrics, do not perform as well.
As a result, currents passing through the transistors leak, reducing the effectiveness of the chip.
To overcome this, Intel has replaced the gate dielectrics, previously made from silicon dioxide, with a material based on the metal hafnium.
Hafnium is a so-called high-K material, which refers to its dielectric constant, and has a greater ability to store electrical charge than silicon dioxide.
The exact recipe for the new material has not been revealed but Intel says that it offers greater performance at such tiny scales.
Intel co-founder Gordon Moore has described the inclusion of hafnium as "one of the biggest transistor advancements in 40 years".