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Science Technology

Aussie, Finnish Researchers Create a Single-Atom Transistor 96

Posted by timothy
from the for-small-transitions dept.
ACKyushu writes "Researchers from Helsinki University of Technology (Finland), University of New South Wales (Australia), and University of Melbourne (Australia) have succeeded in building a working transistor whose active region comprises only a single phosphorus atom in silicon. The results have just been published in Nano Letters. The working principles of the device are based on sequential tunneling of single electrons between the phosphorus atom and the source and drain leads of the transistor. The tunneling can be suppressed or allowed by controlling the voltage on a nearby metal electrode with a width of a few tens of nanometers."
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Aussie, Finnish Researchers Create a Single-Atom Transistor

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  • by Jebinator (1360963) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:07AM (#30342362)
    The devil is in the details. The "Active" region is only 1 atom wide, but the gate is still "10s of nanometers" Last I checked, the gate was still part of a transistor. We're currently mass producing with critical dimensions at 34 nanometers where I work. Granted, this is sweet, knowing that a transistor's active region can be that small. Still, the limit will really be placed on reproducibility. I mean, placing a single phos atom in the middle of a silicon chip at just the right location? That kind of technology being moved into the semiconductor industry for mass reproduction and economies of scale is still a long ways out and I personally think Moore's law will lose steam before then.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:32AM (#30342596)
    Do people really need to be told where Helsinki, New South Wales, and Melbourne are?
  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @10:49AM (#30343130) Homepage

    That kind of technology being moved into the semiconductor industry for mass reproduction and economies of scale is still a long ways out and I personally think Moore's law will lose steam before then.

    I would say it's pretty much lost steam already. If you take a function that can't exploit multiple cores, then the single core performance has not improved much in a while. More cores is a "cheat" that extends it somewhat but I doubt 10+ cores makes any sense for end users so it won't scale much further than it already has.

    The other bummer is power, even though there's a massive focus on power savings now running a CPU/GPU at 100% draws more and more power. The latest AMD offering, the HD 5950 is bumping the head into the 300W ATX limit, and most agree it's designed to overclock for more. Or it is perhaps the same bummer, since it's the main reason 10GHz+ cores aren't practical.

    Fortunately, I think there'll be a lot of innovation in other areas, particularly in networking (fiber, 4G mobile broadband), storage (SSD) and form factor (think iPhone, Wii controller, OLED displays and whatnot).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 06, 2009 @12:33PM (#30343718)

    They wanted to attempt a project that none could do alone so they emailed each other and collaborated perhaps? It is very common for Australian researchers to collaborate with scientists from other countries, I don't know why exactly, probably because it makes sense? How did this discussion get off the ground, for all we know the other is in Finland, yet we have a common ground in wanting to explain this?

    Really, I'm just astounded by your question, can you give me a good reason why they wouldn't collaborate?

  • by Xiaran (836924) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @02:26PM (#30344588)
    Scientists are just as online and wired as the rest of the world... they email each other, read each others papers and attend conferences regardless of nationality. Just imagine one researcher reading the usenet post or paper of someone else doing the same type of work as her... of course they will contact that person.

    A real story from me was when I was at university and introduced a friend of mine(doign a PhD in microbiology) to USENET... this guy had never used or really heard of the Internet as it was quite new(and I am old :) )... A few days after showing him sci.biology(or whatever) and how to post he was so excited that he had already made contact with 4 or 5 people around the globe engaging in similar areas of research as him... It was truly an eye opener for me as to how powerful the Internet was going to be and how it would impact the world some day... alas I did not anticipate rickrolling or LOLcats...

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.