Researchers create transistors using a single molecule

The heart of a processor inside a computer and other devices is the transistor. The more transistors that can be crammed inside a CPU, the better the device performs. There is a limit to how small a working transistor can be and a group of researchers has made a significant breakthrough in transistor size. The team was able to show for the first item that a single molecule can operate as a field-effect transistor.

The transistor that the team developed works when the single molecule is surrounded by charged atoms that operate as the gate. The results of the research will be published in the August 2015 issue of Nature Physics. Researchers working on the project hail from Paul-Drude-Institut f√ľr Festk√∂rperelektronik (PDI) in Berlin, Free University of Berlin (FUB), the NTT Basic Research Laboratories (NTT-BRL) in Japan, and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C.

To perform this feat, the researchers used techniques that IBM pioneered in 1990 when researchers created the letters I, B, and M by moving single atoms on a metal surface. IBM made movies using individual atoms in 2013. In the new research, the molecule had to be placed on a semiconductor surface of a material called indium arsenide rather than metal along with the charged indium atoms around it to form the gate.

The team used a dye called copper phthalocyanine attached to the semiconductor surface to prevent the molecules from attaching themselves together using covalent bonds. The researchers admit that these experiments are far from finding applications in real-world items. Much of the physics involved in making the transistors work aren't fully understood.

SOURCE: Spectrum