Researchers from Stanford University have
constructed an extremely small transistor from a pair of single-walled
carbon nanotubes and organic molecules. A single-walled carbon nanotubes
is a rolled-up sheet of carbon atoms.
The transistor is two nanometers wide and regulates electric current
through a channel that is just one to three nanometers long. Today's computer
chips sport millions of transistors that have 90-nanometer channels. A
nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter, or the span of 10 hydrogen
atoms. The researchers' transistor is about 40,000 times narrower than
a human hair.
The tiny transistor could eventually be used in ultra-low-power
electronics. Transistors made from organic molecules are currently slower
than today's transistors made from silicon, but are cheap and easy to
work with. Scaling organic electronic devices down to the molecular level
using nanotube electrodes should significantly boost organic electronics'
performance, according to the researchers.
The researchers cut metallic nanotubes to form electrodes, then
deposited one of two organic materials to form a semiconducting channel
between the electrodes.
The researchers compared their nanotubes-electrode organic transistor
to an organic transistor made with larger metal electrodes. The nanotube
device had a large enough difference between on and off voltages to work
as a practical transistor, while the larger device did not.
The tiny transistor could be used in practical applications in
two to five years, according to the researchers. The work appeared in
the August 23, 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society
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