Smaller, better, faster

An atomic-scale depiction of the SketchSET shows three wires (green bars) converging on the central island (centRE green area), which can house up to two electrons. Electrons tunnel from one wire to another through the island.
Date:1 July 2011 Tags:

A University of Pittsburgh-led team has created a single-electron transistor that provides a building block for new, more powerful computer memories, advanced electronic materials and the basic components of quantum computers.

The researchers report in Nature Nanotechnology that the transistor’s central component – an island only 1,5 nanometres in diameter – operates with the addition of only one or two electrons. That capability would make the transistor important to a range of computational applications, from ultradense memories to quantum processors, powerful devices that promise to solve problems so complex that all of the world’s computers working together for billions of years could not crack them.

In addition, the tiny central island could be used as an artificial atom for developing new classes of artificial electronic materials, such as exotic superconductors with properties not found in natural materials, explained lead researcher Jeremy Levy, a professor of physics and astronomy in Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences.

Levy and his colleagues named their device SketchSET, or sketchbased single-electron transistor, after a technique developed in Levy’s lab in 2008 that works like a microscopic Etch A Sketch, the drawing toy that inspired the idea.

Source: University of Pittsburgh

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