Researchers at Yale University have succeeded in measuring an electric current flowing through a single organic molecule sandwiched between metal electrodes. The feat could pave the way for a new generation of transistors so small that a beaker full would contain more transistors than exist in the world today, or so reports team leader and Yale electrical engineer Mark A. Reed. To capture the historic measurement of current across a single organic molecule, the researchers made a mechanically controllable break junction by gluing a notched gold wire to a flexible substrate. They then fractured the wire to make an adjustable gap. Next, they sandwiched a single molecule of benzene flanked by two sticky sulfur atoms between the two gold electrodes. What's the potential results? "Thousands of silicon transistors can be produced now for less than a penny," Reed explains, "but the dramatic decrease in cost per transistor that we've enjoyed over the last two decades will start to slow down soon." The answer, Reed believes, is to find materials that will assemble themselves into quantum components. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
During a teardown of the iPad Air and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show in Schaumburg, Ill., an engineer showed this "inflammatory" video about the dangers of maliciously mishandling lithium-ion batteries.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
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