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Science Technology

Scientists Create First Functional Molecular Transistor 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the ever-smaller dept.
Dananajaya Ramanayake sends along this excerpt from Wired: "Nearly 62 years after researchers at Bell Labs demonstrated the first functional transistor, scientists say they have made another major breakthrough. Researchers showed the first functional transistor made from a single molecule. The transistor, which has a benzene molecule attached to gold contacts, could behave just like a silicon transistor. The molecule's different energy states can be manipulated by varying the voltage applied to it through the contacts. And by manipulating the energy states, researchers were able to control the current passing through it."
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Scientists Create First Functional Molecular Transistor

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  • Re:Benzene? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @12:46PM (#30556494)

    I don't think you can call a single molecule a liquid in order for it to be said to evaporate.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @01:00PM (#30556588)

    However, right now, it smells like vaporware.

    I hate to break it to you, but it could only be "vaporware" if they had actually announced a product.

    This is what is commonly referred to as "scientific research". It will, in and of itself, never produce a product. However, what WILL happen is Bell Labs begins working on turning this accomplishment into a manufacturable product. As was noted in the article, this is probably still a decade or more away from reality.

    When Bell scientists produced the first vacuum tube transistor in 1947, they didn't suddenly have super-computers in 1948. It took years of developement after that initial breakthrough to produce computers at a realistic price (millions of dollars at the time for less computing power than a $2 calculator).

    The same thing will happen here, and in a decade or two our world will yet again be unrecognizeable from what it is today.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @01:19PM (#30556714)

    *Facepalm*

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 26, 2009 @01:35PM (#30556814)

    For anyone interested in the actual paper, it's H. Song, et al., Nature 462 p. 1039-1043

    As a (biased) researcher in the field, my opinion of this is that it is no more than an attention grab and will do little to advance science (this is pretty typical of Nature papers, though):

    1. The contacts are still very large compared to the channel (what they call the "transistor"). Without advances in scaling down contacts, you won't see a meaningful decrease in transistor density from this technology. What's more, they don't include an actual picture of the device, so there's no way to tell how big the contacts actually are.

    2. Like most researchers, they "cheat" and use a very large (probably macroscopic) back gate to modulate current. The idea of a field effect transistor is that you apply a voltage perpendicular to the direction of current, which causes charges to move along the electric field and either hinder or help transistor current by creating (or eliminating) a potential well in the transistor. In real devices, you have billions of these transistors on a single wafer and so at some point you have to actually place a local gate, which usually has a huge negative effect on transistor operation.

    3. They don't appear to have any good way of controlling how many of their transistors work (they rely on chance to get these molecules to bridge the gap between electrodes)

    While certainly thought-provoking, as an engineer I am not particularly impressed until I see them using scalable methods.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 26, 2009 @03:45PM (#30557730)

    Yeah, the title never said "mass produced supercmputing computer using molecular sized transistors, widely available now at best buy(tm)". No buddy, it said, 'first time ever that a single molecule sized transistor has been built". It took a lot (long long way) to get here. You can yelp about 'long way to go', but getting 'here' was a bitch. You may have missed that part. In order to get to the moon, man had to learn how to fly. In order to fly, needed to know about aerodynamics, motors, engineering. It wasn't a 'we have fire, but I still can't go to the moon, dammit, call me when I can go to the moon". Its a step at a time. Sorry if you can't jump into your hovercar and fly to Jupiter for burger and fries yet. Maybe you can hold your breath until we get there, then we'll call you. K? The rest of us will recognise the importance of this while do nothing but bitch and complain. When you finally get it (gee you had to wait a long time, what took those people so long!!!), then you can buy devices with these transistors, and still watch the clock flash 12:00 day and night.

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach

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