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.
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