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New breakthrough for smaller electronic devices

New breakthrough for smaller electronic devices

mage caption: Researchers have made a technological breakthrough that will help unlock the next phase of creating smaller everyday electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptops.

Curtin University researchers, supported by ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme funding, have created a diode—the basic component of most modern electronic devices—out of a tiny single molecule, which will help continue the downsizing trend of electronic devices. Diodes, which are responsible for directing electric currents in most common electronic devices, allow currents to flow in one direction while blocking currents in the opposite direction.

Lead researcher and DECRA recipient, Dr Nadim Darwish, said the physical limit of current computing power had been reached because today’s conventional technology was limited to allowing only the printing of millions of diodes on silicon chips, not thousands of billions of diodes. “If we want to continue to offer smaller and more powerful everyday electronic devices like mobiles phones and laptops, then we have to use single molecules as the basic components of the electronic circuits in those devices,” Dr Darwish said.

“Our method utilizes a small organic molecule connected with a gold and a silicon electrode in a tiny circuit, measuring only 1 nanometer long—or about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. While we are not the first to have created single-molecule diodes, this diode is much smaller and more efficient than any previously reported. Using this technology, we can fit more than ten thousand billion diodes onto a 1 cm2 area of a silicon chip, which will help make it easier to develop even smaller everyday electronic devices in the future.

Co-author Dr Simone Ciampi, also from Curtin University—and an ARC DECRA recipient—said the team of researchers was now focused on increasing the mechanical stability of the diodes, to ensure it worked to open up a range of exciting technological possibilities for modern electronic devices.

Media issued by Curtin University.

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