Yale research on molecular switches may lead to smaller, cheaper computers

November 16, 1999

Yale and Rice University scientists have demonstrated molecular devices that act as reversible electronic switches, making it possible to build smaller computers that are less expensive.

The vast improvements and reduced cost seen in computers and electronics over the last three decades will eventually stop because circuits can¹t be made smaller. Scientists have been trying to devise ways to address this problem for years. For the first time, the Yale research team has identified a reversible electronic switch that is the size of a single molecule.

"The ultimate for shrinking the size of a switch is the molecular level, which this study demonstrates," said Mark Reed, Harold Hodgkinson Professor of Engineering and Applied Science and chair of electrical engineering at Yale. "We also did it using a fabrication method which has the potential to radically reduce the cost of future microcircuits."

Published in the November 19 issue of Science, the study looks at large reversible switching behavior in nanoscale electronic devices that use molecules as the active component. The devices show a thousand-fold on/off ratio. These are comparable to or exceed more conventional types of electronic devices.

In addition to shrinking the size of the switch to atomic dimensions, the researchers also used a fabrication method called "self assembly," where the device actually self-forms, in comparison to conventional methods of transistor fabrication using lithography.

"The combination of the small size and the use of self-assembly has the potential to cause a discontinuity in the economics of microcircuitry," said Reed. "Although there are a host of engineering challenges to bring this to a manufacturable technology, this study demonstrates the principle and the fundamental limits of what can be done."

The research team consisted of Reed and graduate student Jia Chen in Yale¹s electrical engineering department; and Professor James Tour and graduate student Adam Rawlett of the Department of Chemistry and Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice University.

Yale University

Related Engineering Articles from Brightsurf:

Re-engineering antibodies for COVID-19
Catholic University of America researcher uses 'in silico' analysis to fast-track passive immunity

Next frontier in bacterial engineering
A new technique overcomes a serious hurdle in the field of bacterial design and engineering.

COVID-19 and the role of tissue engineering
Tissue engineering has a unique set of tools and technologies for developing preventive strategies, diagnostics, and treatments that can play an important role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Engineering the meniscus
Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.

Artificially engineering the intestine
Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.

Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.

New method for engineering metabolic pathways
Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.

Engineering for high-speed devices
A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.

Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.

Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.

Read More: Engineering News and Engineering Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.