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Researchers fab a single atom transistor

Not by chance this time
Mon Feb 20 2012, 13:19

RESEARCHERS have managed to accurately create a single atom transistor.

A team of researchers from the University of New South Wales has managed to create a working transistor from a single phosphorus atom. Along with the transistor itself, the team has fabbed a gate to control current flow.

According to Michelle Simmons, director of the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication at the University of New South Wales, the big breakthrough isn't making a single atom transistor, as that has been done before but only by chance. Simmons told AFP, "This is the first time anyone has shown control of a single atom in a substrate with this level of precise accuracy."

It is hoped that single-atom transistors will enable chip designers to continue upholding Moore's law. It is expected that by the end of the decade, chip designers need to break with current convention to miniaturise transistors further to maintain Moore's law, with single-atom transistors being the obvious - if extremely challenging - end point.

At present the researchers have to use liquid helium to cool the single-atom transistor, so it goes without saying that this won't end up your gaming rig for a good few years yet. Nevertheless, it does show that single atom transistors can be designed and built. µ


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