SYDNEY scientists have built the world’s tiniest transistor
SYDNEY scientists have built the world’s tiniest transistor by precisely positioning a single phosphorus atom in a silicon crystal.
The nano device is an important step in the development of quantum computers – super-powerful devices that will use the weird quantum properties of atoms to perform calculations billions of times faster than today’s computers.
Michelle Simmons, of the University of NSW, said single atom devices had only been made before by chance and their margin of error for placement of the atom was about 10 nanometres, which affected performance.
Her team was the first to be able to manipulate individual atoms with “exquisite precision”.
Using a technique involving a scanning tunnelling microscope, they were able to replace one silicon atom from a group of six with one phosphorus atom, achieving a placement accuracy of better than half a nanometre. “This device is perfect,” Professor Simmons, director of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, said.
The single atom sits between two pairs of electrodes, one about 20 nanometres apart, the other about 100 nanometres apart.
When voltages were applied across the electrodes, the nano device worked like a transistor, a device that can amplify and switch electronic signals.
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