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Researchers develop new concept for single molecule transistor

(Wednesday, June 2, 2005 Edmonton, AB) Molecular electronics using molecules in the construction of electronic circuitry just took a significant step closer to reality. Principal investigator Dr. Robert Wolkow, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Paul Piva and a team of researchers from the National Institute for Nanotechnology of the National Research Council and University of Alberta have designed and tested a new concept for a single molecule transistor. They have shown, for the first time, that a single charged atom on a silicon surface can regulate the conductivity of a nearby molecule. Their discovery is published in the June 2, 2005 edition of the scientific journal Nature.

Miniaturization of microelectronics has a finite end based on todays technology. To continue, a new concept was needed which circumvented the limits of conventional transistor technology. The authors conducted an experiment to examine the potential for electrical transistors on a molecular scale. Their approach has solved what has been an insurmountable hurdle to making a molecular device getting connections onto a single molecule.

They demonstrated that a single atom on a silicon surface can be controllably charged, while all surrounding atoms remain neutral. A molecule placed adjacent to that charged site is tuned, which allows electrical current to flow through the molecule from one electrode to another. The current flowing through the molecule can be switched on and off by changing the charge state of the adjacent atom. The results are promising and are considered to be a scientific breakthrough.

We have shown the potential for devices of unheard-of smallness and unheard-of efficiency. says Dr. Wolkow. A technology based on this concept would require much less energy to power, would produce much less heat, and run much faster.

Molecules are exceedingly small, on the scale of a nanometre (one billionth of a metre). Wolkows team solved the connection problem by
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Contact: Ryan Smith
ryan.smith@ualberta.ca
780-492-0436
University of Alberta
1-Jun-2005


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