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United States Japan Technology

New Molecular Transistor Can Control Single Electrons 46

Eloking writes: An international team of scientists has been able to create a microscopic transistor made up of one single molecule and a number of atoms. Gizmag reports: "Researchers from Germany, Japan and the United States have managed to create a tiny, reliable transistor assembled from a single molecule and a dozen additional atoms. The transistor reportedly operates so precisely that it can control the flow of single electrons, paving the way for the next generation of nanomaterials and miniaturized electronics." The team that conducted the research included teams from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the NTT Basic Research Laboratories in Japan.
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New Molecular Transistor Can Control Single Electrons

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  • by wimconradie ( 4129997 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @05:39AM (#50143779)
    I wonder if a single electron ever poses a cap on progress in going smaller in technology... Although I must say time (given enough) always tends to eventually break through such limitations.
    • by Anonymous Coward


    • Weyl Fermions [phys.org] are the next 'big thing' in electronics.

      • Interesting.

        And yet - "It is the most basic building block of all electrons," ...

        Shouldn't the fact that the electron is no longer a fundamental particle and the standard model is apparently wrong be bigger news?

    • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @08:41AM (#50144307)

      _Energy_ and entropy propose some profound limitations. There have been some very interesting ideas published for quantum computing, which is not necessarily binary, and could another step upwards. The ability to actually trigger a measurable change for recording equipment to read an answer is, itself, a limitation.

      • On the other hand, I vaguely recall some people remarking that some of the quantum computing's wilder performance claims may eventually turn out to be a folly, simply because achieving them would break the macroscopic laws of physics.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2015 @05:54AM (#50143821)

    "Once that number drops to single digits these transistors will become inoperable as quantum mechanics starts getting in the way, with electrons spontaneously jumping from one end of the switch to the other whether the switch is open or closed."

    Nah, the electron doesn't jump anywhere, your detection of where it is jumps. The confusion between the detection-of-something and the actual-something, again.

    The old 'flock of starlings problem', if you can only detect the flock and not the individual starling, then the flock appears to jump from place to place randomly instantaneously, and sometimes appears in two places at once. But that not the bird that's doing that, its the flock-detector.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2015 @06:36AM (#50143907)

      Nah, the electron doesn't jump anywhere, your detection of where it is jumps.

      Um, when you make a perfect position measurement, the wavefunction somehow collapses to a single position eigenvector, so it *is* where you measure it, that's kind of a fundamental property of quantum mechanics that you can't just ignore. The fact that electrons absolutely do not behave like flocks of starlings is also something you can't just ignore. Stop with the naive reinterpretations. If you have a novel interpretation, it has to generate the right maths. Flocks of starlings don't do that. Sorry that QM is hard, but that's not a human failing, it's just how nature works. The human failing is denying this.

      If you're finding QM hard, try learning Newtonian mechanics properly first. No statistic of a Newtonian system jumps from value to value without passing through intervening values, and that includes whatever you consider to be the "position" of a flock of birds.

      Captcha: cringe

      • by Anonymous Coward

        " so it *is* where you measure it, "

        It is WHAT you measure. If you can only measure *IT* then you detect the IT where you measure it. You see why that is?
        So your flock is where you detect the flock to be because that's what you can detect as the flock.

        "If you're finding QM hard, try learning Newtonian mechanics properly first. "

        Really you QM lot have to go back to the basic 2 slits experiment and ask yourself how ONE single indivisible thing goes through both slits at the same time. Then take a look at the

      • Watch the clip I posted below. I believe the GP's point is there appears to be; no flock, one flock, multiple flocks, and the flock can appear to 'instantaneously jump' from place to place. IANAQP but I think it's a very neat way to visualise a quantum jump. If you understand the math of QM that's great, math is the language used for the best description we have of nature. The rest of us who barely remember what an eigenvalue is from the math degree we did decades ago have to rely on tenuous analogies and i
    • Thanks, that's the way I understand it. I haven't heard the flock of birds analogy before but I have seen large flocks like this one [youtube.com] in Australia.
      • Disclaimer: I don't think an electron is composed of a flock of smaller particles, I visualise it as a kind of "knot" in a force field, sometimes the field lines are "pulled" tight enough to observe the knot. Other times it's like a loose extension cord, you not sure if there's a knot until you start to untangle it.
    • Except the electron actually can tunnel to the other side even when the transistor is turned off. Arguing whether you can or can't observe it passing through the blockade is moot, when all you care about is failing to stop the electron from passing through.
    • ... flock of starlings ...

      Is called a "murmuration".

  • manufacturability is what drives the industry, not exotic physics. this project was an interesting demo of tricks you can play with an STM, but it offers nothing towards actual transistors or circuits.

  • it's taken me a long time to be able to solder smt components. how am i supposed to work with a single molecule!?

You have a massage (from the Swedish prime minister).