Latest in Science

Image credit:

Scientists make a transistor from a single molecule

421 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

You're looking at what could be not just one of the smallest semiconductor parts ever, but one of the smallest semiconductor parts possible. A worldwide research team has built a transistor that consists of a single copper phthalocyanine molecule, a dozen indium atoms and an indium arsenide backing material. The trick was to abandon the usual mechanics of a transistor, which normally controls current by modulating the gate voltage, in favor of a field effect. Here, you only need to vary the distance of the gate (in this case, the atoms) to modulate electricity.

Don't start preparing for a world full of tiny-but-complex gadgets just yet. The scientists created their transistor in a near-total vacuum, at a temperature barely above absolute zero. That's a far cry from real-world conditions, and it'll take much more research before transistors this small are in devices you can actually buy. Nonetheless, the breakthrough is promising -- it shows that there's still a long, long way to go before we hit the physical limits of electronics.

[Image credit: US Naval Research Laboratory]

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext file