If borne out experimentally, his work could help explode Moore’s Law and could revolutionize computing technology.
Moore’s Law predicts that the number of transistors that can be economically placed on an integrated circuit will double about every two years. But by 2020, Moore’s Law is expected to hit a brick wall, as manufacturing costs rise and transistors shrink beyond the reach of the laws of classical physics.
A solution lies in the fabled molecular switch. If molecules could replace the current generation of transistors, you could fit more than a trillion switches onto a centimeter-square chip. In 1999, a team of researchers at Yale University published a description of the first such switch, but scientists have been unable to replicate their discovery or explain how it worked. Now, Pati believes he and his team may have found the mechanism behind the switch.
Applying quantum physics, he and his group developed a computer model of an organometallic molecule firmly bound between two gold electrodes. Then he turned on the juice.
As the laws of physics would suggest, the current increased along with the voltage, until it rose to a miniscule 142 microamps. Then suddenly, and counterintuitively, it dropped, a mysterious phenomenon known as negative differential resistance, or NDR. Pati was astonished at what his analysis of the NDR revealed.
Up until the 142-microamp tipping point, the molecule’s cloud of electrons had been whizzing about the nucleus in equilibrium, like planets orbiting the sun. But under the bombardment of the higher voltage, that steady state fell apart, and the electrons were forced into a different equilibrium, a process known as “quantum phase transition.”
“I never thought this would happen,” Pati said. “I was really excited to see this beautiful result.”
Why is this important? A molecule that can exhibit two different phases when subjected to electric fields has promise as a switch: one phase is the “zero” and the other the “one,” which form the foundation of digital electronics.
Pati is working with other scientists to test the model experimentally. His results appear in the article “Origin of Negative Differential Resistance in a Strongly Coupled Single Molecule-metal Junction Device,” published June 16 in Physical Review Letters. The other coauthors are Mike McClain, an undergraduate from Michigan Tech; and Anirban Bandyopadhyay, of the National Institute for Materials Science, Japan. The work of Pati’s team was financed by a five-year, $400,000 Faculty Early Career Development Program award he received from the National Science Foundation.
When helium behaves like a black hole
22.03.2017 | University of Vermont
Astronomers hazard a ride in a 'drifting carousel' to understand pulsating stars
22.03.2017 | International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences