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Press Release 06-053

Device Only Atoms Across May Allow Infinitesimal But Powerful Computers

Single-molecule diode may change Moore's "law" of microchip memory

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Researchers at the University of Chicago recently created a single-molecule diode only a few tens of atoms in size and 1,000 times smaller than its conventional counterparts. Theorists from the University of South Florida and the Russian Academy of Sciences recently determined how the device works. The researchers found electron energy levels in a molecule are efficient channels for transferring electrons from one electrode to another.

Because the molecule in the diode is asymmetrical, it responds to electrical voltage asymmetrically. The channels conduct electrons in one direction but limit flow in the opposite direction, even if the voltage polarity reverses.

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Credit: Trent Schindler, National Science Foundation