Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Molecule by Molecule, NC State Scientists Design a New Transistor

19.11.2003


When amazing new computers and other electronic devices emerge, they will have been conceived and incubated in university laboratories like that of Dr. Chris Gorman, professor of chemistry at North Carolina State University. There, the scientist and his multidisciplinary team are working to build, molecule by molecule, a nanoscale transistor.


A patterned collection of molecules
created and visualized using scanning tunneling microscopy like that used to help create the nanoscale transistor.
Data collected by R. Fuierer



That’s an electronic switch so small it can only be seen with a high-tech device called a scanning tunneling microscope. And if you go to the library to find the “how-to” book, says Gorman, “most of the pages will be blank, because nobody yet knows how to do it.”

And that, for the chemists, engineers and students engaged in the project, is what makes their painstaking, pioneering research so satisfying. If they can design and construct a nanoscale transistor, Gorman, his colleagues and his students will have filled in many of the blank pages in the how-to book. The field is so new, the research avenues so unexplored, that each experiment, each variation, helps write that book.


Their work is guided by the “bottom-up” approach to building something, says Gorman. “Most things are built using ‘top-down’ methods,” he explains, “where you take a chunk of metal, stone or wood and carve off the material you don’t want, until you have an I-beam or a two-by-four. In contrast, we’re interested in assembling molecules, and building a functioning transistor – with as few of the molecules as possible.”

A persuasive advocate of multidisciplinary research, Gorman is working with NC State colleagues Dr. Daniel L. Feldheim, associate professor of chemistry, and Dr. Gregory N. Parsons, associate professor of chemical engineering, to combine this bottom-up approach with Parsons’ top-down engineering in the creation of the nanoscale transistor. Parsons will construct a molecular platform with a tiny indentation into which Gorman, Feldheim and their student team hope to fit a molecular “plug.” The resulting structure should function as an electronic switch – the definition of a transistor.

“Our research will tackle two critical issues in future materials for advanced molecule-based information processing,” says Gorman. “One, how to assemble and attach single molecules to electronic contacts and, two, how to create electronic gain – the fundamental operating principle of a transistor – at the molecular level.”

The benefits of the team’s success could be far ranging, he says. “Better techniques for information processing will keep our economy growing stronger by enabling smaller, faster and lighter electronics.” Imagine, says Gorman, the contents of a library in a postage-stamp-sized chip, and you can begin to ponder some exciting possibilities and “the next phase of electronics development in the United States.”

While the private sector and corporate research and development will ultimately develop such technologies, Gorman says, the fundamental research – with its exploration of byways and promising side streets, false starts as well as serendipitous discoveries – must take place in universities, with federal and state help.

Gorman’s research, for example, is funded by the National Science Foundation through its Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Teams (NIRT) program.

Another must, according to Gorman, “is fundamentally changing how the next generation of technically savvy students is educated. In our research, we want our students to pursue degrees that involve traditional science, engineering and technology-development aspects and state-of-the-art research approaches. We also want to expand the opportunities for women and minorities to participate in this new, interdisciplinary paradigm.”

As evidence that this new paradigm is already taking shape, Gorman’s undergraduate and graduate students, “the Gorman Group,” are fully engaged in his quest for the nanoscale transistor. From the newest students, such as Tiffani Bailey and Jennifer Ayres, to rising juniors such as Bill Capshaw and Jonah Jurss, to veteran grad students such as Tyson Chasse and Drew Wassel, among others, the group collaborates in exploring the nanoscale realms for promising applications.

“With the increasingly fast pace of technological change,” says Gorman, “it’s possible that many of the rules that we teach students in college can be obsolete by the time they graduate. That’s why we must focus on how to think, how to solve problems, how to explore the unexpected avenues and surprising new paths – and, in some ways, to disregard traditional disciplinary boundaries.”

Disregarding traditional boundaries may be a necessary practice for all successful scientists, especially the pioneers, such as Gorman, working at the very edge of the possible. When the next generation of technology transforms our lives, it will have been conceived and perfected in university labs, built grant by grant, student by student, molecule by molecule.

Paul K. Mueller | NC State University
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu/news/press_releases/03_11/337.htm

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Body Talk: A New Crowdshaping Technology Uses Words to Create Accurate 3D Body Models
27.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Intelligente Systeme

nachricht When the Brain Grows, the IQ Rises
16.02.2016 | Technische Universität Chemnitz

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

Im Focus: Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.

In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

27.09.2016 | Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

ICPE in Graz for the seventh time

20.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New switch decides between genome repair and death of cells

27.09.2016 | Life Sciences

Nanotechnology for energy materials: Electrodes like leaf veins

27.09.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

‘Missing link’ found in the development of bioelectronic medicines

27.09.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>