NOVEMBER 9--Scientists from Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs (Murray Hill, NJ) have fabricated an individually addressable transistor whose channel consists of just one molecule. The channel--the space between its electrodes--is where the transistor's electronic switching and amplification take place. The tiny transistors are so small--only a billionth of a meter each--that approximately 10 million of them would fit on the head of a pin. Made of an unconventional organic semiconductor material and using a novel fabrication technique, they may lead to smaller, faster, and cheaper computer chips in the future.
Last month, the same Bell Labs team--physicist Hendrik Schon and chemists Zhenan Bao and Hong Meng--unveiled a transistor with a single-molecule channel length. But that device could only be fabricated as a matrix of a few thousand molecules that worked in tandem. Now, the team has succeeded in fabricating molecular-scale transistors that can be individually controlled.
The power of computer chips typically increases as the size of its transistors shrinks. Bell Labs' single-molecule transistor is reportedly less than one-tenth the size of any transistor made previously. "This work pushes the miniaturization of electronics to its final frontier," said Federico Capasso, physics research vice president at Bell Labs. "It may become the cornerstone of a new nanoelectronics era."
The breakthrough is described in an article published by Science on its Science Express Web site: www.sciencexpress.org.