06.14.2005 12:00 AM
Scientists Develop Single Molecule Transistor
If the results of recent research by scientists at the University of Liverpool, the National Institute for Nanotechnology of the National Research Council in Canada and the University of Alberta can be moved out the lab into the factory, look for a breakthrough in smaller, faster and more efficient microprocessors, digital signal processors and other electronic devices. Dr. Werner Hofer, a scientist at the University of Liverpool's Surface Science Research Center, working with a team of scientists from the other institutions, has created a prototype device that demonstrates a single charged atom on a silicon surface can regulate the conductivity of a nearby molecule while operating at room temperature. This single molecule transistor, about a nanometer in size, is much faster (less capacitance, shorter transit time) than conventional transistors used in today's integrated circuits and thus generates less heat.
Dr Hofer explained, "Our experiments demonstrate that we can control the current through a single molecule by charging a single atom on a silicon surface, while all surrounding atoms remain neutral. Our research brings us a step nearer to using molecular electronics which would not only prove more efficient and cheaper than current devices, but would also have the potential to power green technology because of the biodegradable nature of the device. Our prototype is a scientific breakthrough in molecular electronics. We have successfully shown the potential for devices of unheard-of smallness and unheard-of efficiency. This is the first time anyone has shown that a molecule is in fact a transistor."
Additional information, including illustrations, are available in the University of Liverpool news release