KIT Debuts World’s Smallest Quantum Transistor
Photo provided by Professor Thomas Schimmel
Coming in at the width of a single metal atom, Tthe Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s latest project — coming in at the width of a single metal atom — has shrunk the scale scientists use to consider transistors, while increasing while — and increased their usability potential.
According to KIT’s press releasethe press release from KIT, the new transistor combats the main problem impeding the growth (or, more accurately, the shrinkage) of data processing technology: digitization needs a high volume of energy.the high volume of energy needed in digitization.
“This quantum electronics element enables switching energies smaller than those of conventional silicon technologies by a factor of 10,000,” says Professor Thomas Schimmel, the physicist and nanotechnology expert leading theleadingthe team leader behind the project. Schimmel is the co-director of the Center for Single-Atom Electronics and Photonics, created by KIT and ETH Zurich earlier this year. In Advanced Materials, he discusses how hHis transistor is made entirely of metal, making it devoid of semiconductors, and low on voltage, and low energy consumption. It operates with two metal semiconductors that are placed on either side of a small gap, which is a single atom in width. “By an electric control pulse, we position a single silver atom into this gap and close the circuit,” Schimmel demonstrates. “When the silver atom is removed again, the circuit is interrupted.”
“By an electric control pulse, we position a single silver atom into this gap and close the circuit,” Schimmel demonstrates. “When the silver atom is removed again, the circuit is interrupted.”
Schimmel also focuses on is the co-director of the Center for Single-Atom Electronics and Photonics, the research institute created by KIT and ETH Zurich early this year. There, he published the first article about the project in Advanced Materials. In it, he focused more on the potential of the electrolyte construction — using solid instead of liquid to improve safety and handling — and the pyrogenic silica it is encased in (which makes it so energy dense) as well as the device stability of the device at higher temperatures. It does not require the usual negative temperatures quantum transistors need to operate; instead, it operates at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. AThis, along with the small size, this makes the transistor more attractive to developers and streamlined commercialization. It seems only a matter of time before the technology replaces the now outdated transistors in our smartphones, tablets, and PCs.