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single-atom transistor is end of moore's law

A plot of CPU against dates of introduction.

Moore's law is the frauen suchen mann wie vater observation that the number of in a zwei frauen suchen mann in berlin dense doubles approximately every two years. The observation is named after, the co-founder of and, whose 1965 paper described a in the number of components per integrated circuit, and projected this rate of growth would continue for at least another decade. In 1975, looking forward to the next decade, he revised the forecast to doubling every two years. The period is often quoted as 18 months because of Intel executive David House, who predicted that chip performance would double every 18 months (being a combination of the effect of more transistors and the transistors being faster).

Moore's prediction proved accurate for several decades, and has been used in the industry to guide long-term planning and to set targets for. Advancements in digital electronics are strongly linked to Moore's law: microprocessor prices,, and even the number and size of in. Digital electronics has contributed to world economic growth in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Moore's law describes a driving force of technological and social change,, and.

Moore's law is an or and not a or. Although the rate held steady from 1975 until around 2012, the rate was faster during the first decade. In general, it is not logically sound to extrapolate from the historical growth rate into the indefinite future. For example, the 2010 update to the, predicted that growth would slow around 2013, and in 2015 Gordon Moore foresaw that the rate of would reach : "I see Moore's law dying here in the next decade or so."

Intel stated in 2015 that the pace of advancement has slowed, starting at the feature width around 2012, and continuing at., CEO of Intel, announced, "Our cadence today is closer to two and a half years than two." Intel is expected to reach the node in 2018, a three-year cadence. He cited Moore's 1975 revision as a precedent for the current deceleration, which results from technical challenges and is "a natural part of the history of Moore's law."

Contents

History[]

Gordon Moore in 2004

In 1959, discussed the projected downscaling of size in the article "Microelectronics, and the Art of Similitude". Engelbart presented his ideas at the 1960, where Moore was present in the audience.

For the thirty-fifth anniversary issue of magazine, which was published on April 19, 1965, Gordon E. Moore, who was working as the director of research and development at at the time, was asked to predict what was going to happen in the semiconductor components industry over the next ten years. His response was a brief article entitled, "Cramming more components onto integrated circuits". Within his editorial, he speculated that by 1975 it would be possible to contain as many as 65,000 components on a single quarter-inch semiconductor.

The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year. Certainly over the short term this rate can be expected to continue, if not to increase. Over the longer term, the rate of increase is a bit more uncertain, although there is no reason to believe it will not remain nearly constant for at least 10 years.

His reasoning was a log-linear relationship between device complexity (higher circuit density at reduced cost) and time.

At the 1975 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting, Moore revised the forecast rate. Semiconductor complexity would continue to double annually until about 1980 after which it would decrease to a rate of doubling approximately every two years. He outlined several contributing factors for this exponential behavior:

  • die sizes were increasing at an exponential rate and as defective densities decreased, chip manufacturers could work with larger areas without losing reduction yields;
  • simultaneous evolution to finer minimum dimensions;
  • and what Moore called "circuit and device cleverness".

Shortly after 1975, professor er sucht sie weimar popularized the term "Moore's law".

Despite a popular misconception, Moore is adamant that he did not predict a doubling "every 18 months". Rather, David House, an Intel colleague, had factored in the increasing performance of transistors to conclude that integrated circuits would double in performance every 18 months.

In April 2005, offered US$10,000 to purchase a copy of the original Electronics issue in which Moore's article appeared. An engineer living in the United Kingdom was the first to find a copy and offer it to Intel.

As an evolving target for industry[]

An portable computer, from 1982, with a 4 MHz CPU, and a 2007 with a 412 MHz CPU; the Executive weighs 100 times as much, has nearly 500 times the volume, costs approximately 10 times as much (adjusted for inflation), and has about 1/100th the of the.

Moore's law came to be widely accepted as a goal for the industry, and it was cited by competitive manufacturers as they strove to increase processing power. Moore viewed his eponymous law as surprising and optimistic: "Moore's law is a violation of. Everything gets better and better." The observation was even seen as a. However, the rate of improvement in physical dimensions known as has slowed in recent years; and, formal revisions to the were discontinued as of 2016.

Moore's second law[]

Further information:

As the cost of computer power to the falls, the cost for producers to fulfill Moore's law follows an opposite trend: R&D, manufacturing, and test costs have increased steadily with each new generation of chips. Rising manufacturing costs are an important consideration for the sustaining of Moore's law. This had led to the formulation of Moore's second law, also called, which is that the cost of a also increases exponentially over time.

Major enabling factors[]

The trend of scaling for NAND flash memory allows doubling of components manufactured in the same wafer area in less than 18 months.

Numerous innovations by scientists and engineers have sustained Moore's law since the beginning of the integrated circuit (IC) era. Some of the key innovations are listed below, as examples of breakthroughs that have advanced technology by more than seven orders of magnitude in less than five decades:

  • The foremost contribution, which is the raison d'être for Moore's law, is the invention of the, credited contemporaneously to at Texas Instruments and at Fairchild Semiconductor.
  • The invention of the complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor () process by in 1963, and a number of advances in CMOS technology by many workers in the semiconductor field since the work of Wanlass, have enabled the extremely dense and high-performance ICs that the industry makes today.
  • The invention of dynamic random-access memory () technology by at in 1967 made it possible to fabricate single-transistor memory cells, and the invention of by at Toshiba in the 1980s led to low-cost, high-capacity memory in diverse electronic products.
  • The invention of by Hiroshi Ito, C. Grant Willson and J.M.J. Fréchet at IBM c. 1980 that was 5-10 times more sensitive to ultraviolet light. IBM introduced chemically amplified photoresist for DRAM production in the mid-1980s.
  • The invention of deep UV excimer laser by Kanti Jain at IBM c.1980 has enabled the smallest features in ICs to shrink from in 1990 to as low as 10 nanometers in 2016. Prior to this, had been mainly used as research devices since their development in the 1970s. From a broader scientific perspective, the invention of excimer laser lithography has been highlighted as one of the major milestones in the 50-year history of the laser.
  • The innovations of the late 1990s, including chemical-mechanical polishing or (CMP), trench isolation, and copper interconnects—although not directly a factor in creating smaller transistors—have enabled improved yield, additional wires, closer spacing of devices, and lower electrical resistance.

Computer industry technology road maps predict (as of 2001) that Moore's law will continue for several generations of semiconductor chips. Depending on the doubling time used in the calculations, this could mean up to a hundredfold increase in transistor count per chip within a decade. The semiconductor industry technology roadmap uses a three-year doubling time for, leading to a tenfold increase in the next decade. Intel was reported in 2005 as stating that the downsizing of chips with good economics can continue during the next decade, and in 2008 as predicting the trend through 2029.

Future trends[]

An simulation for electron density as gate voltage (Vg) varies in a MOSFET. The threshold voltage is around 0.45 V. Nanowire MOSFETs lie toward the end of the ITRS road map for scaling devices below 10 nm gate lengths. A has three sides of the channel covered by gate, while some nanowire transistors have gate-all-around structure, providing better gate control.

One of the key challenges of engineering future nanoscale transistors is the design of gates. As device dimension shrinks, controlling the current flow in the thin channel becomes more difficult. Compared to, which have gate dielectric on three sides of the channel, gate-all-around structure has ever better gate control.

  • In 2010, researchers at the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, Ireland announced a junctionless transistor. A control gate wrapped around a silicon nanowire can control the passage of electrons without the use of junctions or doping. They claim these may be produced at 10-nanometer scale using existing fabrication techniques.
  • In 2011, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh announced the development of a single-electron transistor, 1.5 nanometers in diameter, made out of oxide based materials. Three "wires" converge on a central "island" that can house one or two electrons. Electrons tunnel from one wire to another through the island. Conditions on the third wire result in distinct conductive properties including the ability of the transistor to act as a solid state memory. Nanowire transistors could spur the creation of microscopic computers.
  • In 2012, a research team at the announced the development of the first working transistor consisting of a single atom placed precisely in a silicon crystal (not just picked from a large sample of random transistors). Moore's law predicted this milestone to be reached for ICs in the lab by 2020.
  • In 2015, IBM demonstrated node chips with transistors produced using. The company believes this transistor density would be four times that of current chips.

Revolutionary technology advances may help sustain Moore's law through improved performance with or without reduced feature size.

  • In 2008, researchers at HP Labs announced a working, a fourth basic passive circuit element whose existence only had been theorized previously. The memristor's unique properties permit the creation of smaller and better-performing electronic devices.
  • In 2014, bioengineers at developed a circuit modeled on the human brain. Sixteen "Neurocore" chips simulate one million neurons and billions of synaptic connections, claimed to be 9,000 times faster as well as more energy efficient than a typical PC.
  • In 2015, Intel and announced, a claimed to be significantly faster with similar density compared to NAND. Production scheduled to begin in 2016 was delayed until the second half of 2017.

Alternative materials research[]

The vast majority of current transistors on ICs are composed principally of silicon and its alloys. As silicon is fabricated into single nanometer transistors, adversely change desired material properties of silicon as a functional transistor. Below are several non-silicon substitutes in the fabrication of small nanometer transistors.

One proposed material is, or InGaAs. Compared to their silicon and germanium counterparts, InGaAs transistors are more promising single mann mit hund for future high-speed, low-power logic applications. Because of intrinsic characteristics of, quantum well and effect transistors based on InGaAs have been proposed as alternatives to more traditional designs.

  • In 2009, Intel announced the development of 80-nanometer InGaAs transistors. Quantum well devices contain a material sandwiched between two layers of material with a wider band gap. Despite being double the size of leading pure silicon transistors at the time, the company reported that they performed equally as well while consuming less power.
  • In 2011, researchers at Intel demonstrated 3-D InGaAs transistors with improved leakage characteristics compared to traditional planar designs. The company claims that their design achieved the best electrostatics of any III-V compound semiconductor transistor. At the 2015, Intel mentioned the use of III-V compounds based on such an architecture for their 7 nanometer node.
  • In 2011, researchers at the developed an InGaAs tunneling field-effect transistors capable of higher operating currents than previous designs. The first III-V TFET designs were demonstrated in 2009 by a joint team from and.
  • In 2012, a team in MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories developed a 22 nm transistor based on InGaAs which, at the time, was the smallest non-silicon transistor ever built. The team used techniques currently used in silicon device fabrication and aims for better electrical performance and a reduction to scale.
  • Research is also showing how biological micro-cells are capable of impressive computational power while being energy efficient.

Alternatively, carbon-based compounds like have also been proposed. First identified in the nineteenth century, an easy method of producing graphene was not available until. Being a particular form of carbon, graphene typically exists in its stable form of, a widely used material in many applications – the in a mechanical pencil being an example. When a single monolayer of carbon atoms is extracted from nonconductive bulk graphite, electrical properties are observed contributing to semiconductor behavior, making it a viable. More research will need to be performed, however, on sub 50 nm graphene layers, as its resistivity value increases and thus electron mobility decreases.

transistors have shown great promise since its appearance in publications in 2008. Bulk graphene has a of zero and thus cannot be used in transistors because of its constant conductivity, an inability to turn off. The zigzag edges of the nanoribbons introduce localized energy states in the conduction and valence bands and thus a bandgap that enables switching when fabricated as a transistor. As an example, a typical GNR of width of 10 nm has a desirable bandgap energy of 0.4eV.

Near-term limits[]

Most semiconductor industry forecasters, including Gordon Moore, expect Moore's law will end by around 2025.

In April 2005, stated in an interview that the projection cannot be sustained indefinitely: "It can't continue forever. The nature of exponentials is that you push them out and eventually disaster happens." He also noted that eventually would reach the limits of miniaturization at levels:

In terms of size [of transistors] you can see that we're approaching the size of atoms which is a fundamental barrier, but it'll zwei frauen suchen mann in berlin be two or three generations before we get that far—but that's as far out as we've ever been able to see. We have another 10 to 20 years before we reach a fundamental limit. By then they'll be able to make bigger chips and have transistor budgets in the billions.

Consequences and limitations[]

is a combination of more and of better technology. A 2011 study in the journal showed that the peak of the rate of change of the world's capacity to compute information was in 1998, when the world's technological capacity to compute information on general-purpose computers grew at 88% per year. Since then, technological change clearly has slowed. In recent times, every new year allowed humans to carry out roughly 60% more computation than possibly could have been executed by all existing general-purpose computers in the year before. This still is exponential, but shows the varying nature of technological change.

The primary driving force of is the growth of productivity, and Moore's law factors into productivity. Moore (1995) expected that "the rate of technological progress is going to be controlled from financial realities". The reverse could and did occur around the late-1990s, however, with economists reporting that " growth is the key economic indicator of innovation."

An acceleration in the rate of semiconductor progress contributed to a surge in U.S. growth, which reached 3.4% per year in 1997–2004, outpacing the 1.6% per year during both 1972–1996 and 2005–2013. As economist Richard G. Anderson notes, "Numerous studies have traced the cause of the productivity acceleration to technological innovations in the production of semiconductors that sharply reduced the prices of such components and of the products that contain them (as well as expanding the capabilities of such products)."

Intel transistor gate length trend – transistor scaling has slowed down significantly at advanced (smaller) nodes

While physical limits to transistor scaling such as source-to-drain leakage, limited gate metals, and limited options for channel material have been reached, new avenues for continued scaling are open. The most promising of these approaches rely on using the spin state of electron,, and advanced confinement of channel materials via nano-wire geometry. A comprehensive list of available device choices shows that a wide range of device options is open for continuing Moore's law into the next few decades. Spin-based logic and memory options are being developed actively in industrial labs, as well as academic labs.

Another source of improved performance is in techniques exploiting the growth of available transistor count. and on-chip and reduce the memory latency bottleneck at the expense of using more transistors and increasing the processor complexity. These increases are described empirically by, which states that performance increases due to microarchitecture techniques are square root of the number of transistors or the area of a processor.

For years, processor makers delivered increases in and, so that single-threaded code executed faster on newer processors with no modification. Now, to manage, processor makers favor chip designs, and software has to be written in a manner to take full advantage of the hardware. Many multi-threaded development paradigms introduce overhead, and will not see a linear increase in speed vs number of processors. This is particularly true while accessing shared or dependent resources, due to contention. This effect becomes more noticeable as the number of processors increases. There are cases where a roughly 45% increase in processor transistors has translated to roughly 10–20% increase in processing power.

On the other hand, processor manufacturers are taking advantage of the 'extra space' that the transistor shrinkage provides to add specialized processing units to deal with features such as graphics, video, and cryptography. For one example, Intel's Parallel JavaScript extension not only adds support for multiple cores, but also for the other non-general processing features of their chips, as part of the migration in client side scripting toward.

A negative implication of Moore's law is, that is, as technologies continue to rapidly "improve", these improvements may be significant enough to render predecessor technologies obsolete rapidly. In situations in which security and survivability of hardware or data are paramount, or in which resources are limited, rapid obsolescence may pose obstacles to smooth or continued operations.

Because of the toxic materials used in the production of modern computers, obsolescence, if not properly managed, may lead to harmful environmental impacts. On the other hand, obsolescence may sometimes be desirable to a company which can profit immensely from the regular purchase of what is often expensive new equipment instead of retaining one device for a longer period of time. Those in the industry are well aware of this, and may utilize as a method of increasing profits.

Moore's law has affected the performance of other technologies significantly: wrote of a Moore's War following the apparent success of in the early days of the. Progress in the development of guided weapons depends on electronic technology. Improvements in circuit density and low-power operation associated with Moore's law also have contributed to the development of technologies including and.

Other formulations and similar observations[]

Several measures of digital technology are improving at exponential rates related to Moore's law, including the size, cost, density, and speed of components. Moore wrote only about the density of components, "a component being a transistor, resistor, diode or capacitor", at minimum cost.

Transistors per integrated circuit – The most popular formulation is of the doubling of the number of on every two years. At the end of the 1970s, Moore's law became known as the limit for the number of transistors on the most complex chips. The graph at the top shows this trend holds true today.

  • As of 2016, the commercially available processor possessing the highest number of transistors is the 24 core with over 5.7 billion transistors.

Density at minimum cost per transistor – This is the formulation given in Moore's 1965 paper. It is not just about the density of transistors that can be achieved, but about the density of transistors at which the cost per transistor is the lowest. As more transistors are put on a chip, the cost to make each transistor decreases, but the chance that the chip will not work due to a defect increases. In 1965, Moore examined the density of transistors at which cost is minimized, and observed that, as transistors were made smaller through advances in, this number would increase at "a rate of roughly a factor of two per year".

– This suggests that power requirements are proportional to area (both voltage and current being proportional to length) for transistors. Combined with Moore's law, would grow at roughly the same rate as transistor density, doubling every 1–2 years. According to transistor dimensions are scaled by 30% (0.7x) every technology generation, thus reducing their area by 50%. This reduces the delay by 30% (0.7x) and therefore increases operating frequency by about 40% (1.4x). Finally, to keep electric field constant, voltage is reduced by 30%, reducing energy by 65% and power (at 1.4x frequency) by 50%. Therefore, in every technology generation transistor density doubles, circuit becomes 40% faster, while power consumption (with twice the number of transistors) stays the same.

The exponential processor transistor growth predicted by Moore does not always translate into exponentially greater practical CPU performance. Since around 2005–2007, Dennard scaling appears to have broken down, so even though Moore's law continued for several years after that, it has not yielded dividends in improved performance. The primary reason cited for the breakdown is that at small sizes, current leakage poses greater challenges, and also causes the chip to heat up, which creates a threat of and therefore, further increases energy costs.

The breakdown of Dennard scaling prompted a switch among some chip manufacturers to a greater focus on multicore processors, but the gains offered by switching to more cores are lower than the gains that would be achieved had Dennard scaling continued. In another departure from Dennard scaling, Intel microprocessors adopted a non-planar tri-gate at in 2012 that is faster and consumes less power than a conventional planar transistor.

Quality adjusted price of IT equipment – The of information technology (IT), computers and peripheral equipment, and inflation, declined 16% per year on average over the five decades from 1959 to 2009. The pace accelerated, however, to 23% per year in 1995–1999 triggered by faster IT innovation, and later, slowed to 2% per year in 2010–2013.

The rate of microprocessor price improvement likewise varies, and is not linear on a log scale. Microprocessor price improvement accelerated during the late 1990s, reaching 60% per year (halving every nine months) versus the typical 30% improvement rate (halving every two years) during the years earlier and later. Laptop microprocessors in particular improved 25–35% per year in 2004–2010, and slowed to 15–25% per year in 2010–2013.

The number of transistors per chip cannot explain microprocessor prices fully. Moore's 1995 paper does not limit Moore's law to strict linearity or to transistor count, "The definition of 'Moore's Law' has come to refer to almost anything related to the semiconductor industry that when plotted on semi-log paper approximates a straight line. I hesitate to review its origins and by doing so restrict its definition."

Hard disk drive areal density – A similar observation (sometimes called ) was made in 2005 for. Several decades of rapid progress resulted from the use of, the, and the. The of areal density advancement slowed significantly around 2010, because of noise related to of the disk media, thermal stability, and writability using available magnetic fields.

Fiber-optic capacity – The number of bits per second that can be sent down an optical fiber increases exponentially, faster than Moore's law. Keck's law, in honor of.

Network capacity – According to Gerry/Gerald Butters, the former head of Lucent's Optical Networking Group at, there is another version, called Butters' Law of Photonics, a formulation that deliberately parallels Moore's law. Butters' law says that the amount of data coming out of an optical fiber is doubling every nine months. Thus, the cost of transmitting a bit over an optical network decreases by half every nine months. The availability of (sometimes called WDM) increased the capacity that could be placed on a single fiber by as much as a factor of 100. Optical networking and (DWDM) is rapidly bringing down the cost of networking, and further progress seems assured. As a result, the wholesale price of data traffic collapsed in the. says that the bandwidth available to users increases by 50% annually.

Pixels per dollar – Similarly, Barry Hendy of Kodak Australia has plotted pixels per dollar as a basic measure of value for a digital camera, demonstrating the historical linearity (on a log scale) of this market and the opportunity to predict the future trend of digital camera price, LCD and LED screens, and resolution.

The great Moore's law compensator (TGMLC), also known as – generally is referred to as and is the principle that successive generations of computer software increase in size and complexity, thereby offsetting the performance gains predicted by Moore's law. In a 2008 article in, Randall C. Kennedy, formerly of Intel, introduces this term using successive versions of between the year 2000 and 2007 as his premise. Despite the gains in computational performance during this time period according to Moore's law, Office 2007 performed the same task at half the speed on a prototypical year 2007 computer as compared to Office 2000 on a year 2000 computer.

Library expansion – was calculated in 1945 by to double in capacity every 16 years, if sufficient space were made available. He advocated replacing bulky, decaying printed works with miniaturized analog photographs, which could be duplicated on-demand for library patrons or other institutions. He did not foresee the digital technology that would follow decades later to replace analog microform with digital imaging, storage, and transmission media. Automated, potentially lossless digital technologies allowed vast increases in the rapidity of information growth in an era that now sometimes is called the.

– is a term coined by The Economist to describe the biotechnological equivalent of Moore's law, and is named after author Rob Carlson. Carlson accurately predicted that the doubling time of DNA sequencing technologies (measured by cost and performance) would be at least as fast as Moore's law. Carlson Curves illustrate the rapid (in some cases hyperexponential) decreases in cost, and increases in performance, of a variety of technologies, including DNA sequencing, DNA synthesis, and a range of physical and computational tools used in protein expression and in determining protein structures.

– is a pharmaceutical drug development observation which was deliberately written as Moore's Law spelled backwards in order to contrast it with the exponential advancements of other forms of technology (such as transistors) over time. It states that the cost of developing a new drug roughly doubles every nine years.

says that each doubling of the cumulative production of virtually any product or service is accompanied by an approximate constant percentage reduction in the unit cost. The acknowledged first documented qualitative description of this dates from 1885. A power curve was used to describe this phenomenon in a 1936 discussion of the cost of airplanes.

See also[]

  1. The trend begins with the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958. See the graph on the bottom of page 3 of Moore's original presentation of the idea.
  2. Active power = CV2f

References[]

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Further reading[]

  • Moore's Law: The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley's Quiet Revolutionary. Arnold Thackray, David C. Brock, and Rachel Jones. New York: Basic Books, (May) 2015.
  • Understanding Moore's Law: Four Decades of Innovation. Edited by David C. Brock. Philadelphia: Chemical Heritage Press, 2006.  .  .

External links[]

The smallest transistor ever built -- in fact, the smallest transistor that can be built -- has been created using a single phosphorus atom by an international team of researchers at the University of New South Wales, Purdue University and the University of Melbourne.

The single-atom device was described Sunday (Feb. 19) in a paper in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Michelle Simmons, group leader and director of the ARC Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication at the University of New South Wales, says the development is less about improving current technology than building future tech.

"This is a beautiful demonstration of controlling matter at the atomic scale to make a real device," Simmons says. "Fifty years ago when the first transistor was developed, no one could have predicted the role that computers would play in our society today. As we transition to atomic-scale devices, we are now entering a new paradigm where quantum mechanics promises a similar technological disruption. It is the promise of this future technology that makes this present development so exciting."

The same research team announced in January that it had developed a wire of phosphorus and silicon -- just one atom tall and four atoms wide -- that behaved like copper wire.

Simulations of the atomic transistor to model its behavior were conducted at Purdue using nanoHUB technology, an online community resource site for researchers in computational nanotechnology.

Gerhard Klimeck, who directed the Purdue group that ran the simulations, says this is an important development because it shows how small electronic components can be engineered.

"To me, this is the physical limit of Moore's Law," Klimeck says. "We can't make it smaller than this."

Although definitions can vary, simply stated Moore's Law holds that the number of transistors that can be placed on a processor will double approximately every 18 months. The latest Intel chip, the "Sandy Bridge," uses a manufacturing process to place 2.3 billion transistors 32 nanometers apart. A single phosphorus atom, by comparison, is just 0.1 nanometers across, which would significantly reduce the size of processors made using this technique, although it may be many years before single-atom processors actually are manufactured.

The single-atom transistor does have one serious limitation: It must be kept very cold, at least as cold as liquid nitrogen, or minus 391 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 196 Celsius).

"The atom sits in a well or channel, and for it to operate as a transistor the electrons must stay in that channel," Klimeck says. "At higher temperatures, the electrons move more and go outside of the channel. For this atom to act like a metal you have to contain the electrons to the channel.

"If someone develops a technique to contain the electrons, this technique could be used to build a computer that would work at room temperature. But this is a fundamental question for this technology."

Although single atoms serving as transistors have been observed before, this is the first time a single-atom transistor has been controllably engineered with atomic precision. The structure even has markers that allow researchers to attach contacts and apply a voltage, says Martin Fuechsle, a researcher at the University of New South Wales and lead author on the journal paper.

"The thing that is unique about what we have done is that we have, with atomic precision, positioned this individual atom within our device," Fuechsle says.

Simmons says this control is the key step in making a single-atom device. "By achieving the placement of a single atom, we have, at the same time, developed a technique that will allow us to be able to place several of these single-atom devices towards the goal of a developing a scalable system."

The single-atom transistor could lead the way to building a quantum computer that works by controlling the electrons and thereby the quantum information, or qubits. Some scientists, however, have doubts that such a device can ever be built.

"Whilst this result is a major milestone in scalable silicon quantum computing, it does not answer the question of whether quantum computing is possible or not," Simmons says. "The answer to this lies in whether quantum coherence can be controlled over large numbers of qubits. The technique we have developed is potentially scalable, using the same materials as the silicon industry, but more time is needed to realize this goal."

Klimeck says despite the hurdles, the single-atom transistor is an important development.

"This opens eyes because it is a device that behaves like metal in silicon. This will lead to many more discoveries."

The research project spanned the globe and was the result of many years of effort.

"When I established this program 10 years ago, many people thought it was impossible with too many technical hurdles. However, on reading into the literature I could not see any practical reason why it would not be possible," Simmons says. "Brute determination and systemic studies were necessary -- as well as having many outstanding students and postdoctoral researchers who have worked on the project."

Klimeck notes that modern collaboration and community-building tools such as nanoHUB played an important role.

"This was a trans-Pacific collaboration that came about through the community created in nanoHUB. Now Purdue graduate students spend time studying at the University of New South Wales, and their students travel to Purdue to learn more about nanotechnology. It has been a rewarding collaboration, both for the scientific discoveries and for the personal relationships that were formed."

A controllable transistor engineered from a single phosphorus atom has been developed by researchers at the University of New South Wales, Purdue University and the University of Melbourne. The atom, shown here in the center of an image from a computer model, sits in a channel in a silicon crystal. The atomic-sized transistor and wires might allow researchers to control gated qubits of information in future quantum computers. (Purdue University image)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The smallest transistor ever built - in fact, the smallest transistor that can be built - has been created using a single phosphorous atom by an international team of researchers at the University of New South Wales, Purdue University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney.

The single-atom device was described Sunday (Feb. 19) in a paper in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Michelle Simmons, group leader and director of the ARC Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication at the University of New South Wales, says the development is less about improving current technology than building future tech.

"This is a beautiful demonstration of controlling matter at the atomic scale to make a real device," Simmons says. "Fifty years ago when the first transistor was developed, no one could have predicted the role that computers would play in our society today. As we transition to atomic-scale devices, we are now entering a new paradigm where quantum mechanics promises a similar technological disruption. It is the promise of this future technology that makes this present development so exciting."

The same research team announced in January that it had developed a wire of phosphorus and silicon - just one atom tall and four atoms wide - that behaved like copper wire.

Simulations of the atomic transistor to model its behavior were conducted at Purdue using technology, an online community resource site for researchers in computational nanotechnology.

Gerhard Klimeck, who directed the Purdue group that ran the simulations, says this is an important development because it shows how small electronic components can be engineered.

"To me, this is the physical limit of Moore's Law," Klimeck says. "We can't make it smaller than this."

Although definitions can vary, simply stated Moore's Law holds that the number of transistors that can be placed on a processor will double approximately every 18 months. The latest Intel chip, the "Sandy Bridge," uses a manufacturing process to place 2.3 billion transistors 32 nanometers apart. A single phosphorus atom, by comparison, is just 0.1 nanometers across, which would significantly reduce the size of processors made using this technique, although it may be many years before single-atom processors actually are manufactured.

The single-atom transistor does have one serious limitation: It must be kept very cold, at least as cold as liquid nitrogen, or minus 391 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 196 Celsius).

"The atom sits in a well or channel, and for it to operate as a transistor the electrons must stay in that channel," Klimeck says. "At higher temperatures, the electrons move more and go outside of the channel. For this atom to act like a metal you have to contain the electrons to the channel.

"If someone develops a technique to contain the electrons, this technique could be used to build a computer that would work at room temperature. But this is a fundamental question for this technology."

Although single atoms serving as transistors have been observed before, this is the first time a single-atom transistor has been controllably engineered with atomic precision. The structure even has markers that allow researchers to attach contacts and apply a voltage, says Martin Fuechsle, a researcher at the University of New South Wales and lead author on the journal paper.

"The thing that is unique about what we have done is that we have, with atomic precision, positioned this individual atom within our device," Fuechsle says.

Simmons says this control is the key step in making a single-atom device. "By achieving the placement of a single atom, we have, at the same time, developed a technique that will allow us to be able to place several of these single-atom devices towards the goal of a developing a scalable system." 

The single-atom transistor could lead the way to building a quantum computer that works by controlling the electrons and thereby the quantum information, or qubits. Some scientists, however, have doubts that such a device can ever be built.

"Whilst this result is a major milestone in scalable silicon quantum computing, it does not answer the question of whether quantum computing is possible or not," Simmons says. "The answer to this lies in whether quantum coherence can be controlled over large numbers of qubits. The technique we have developed is potentially scalable, using the same materials as the silicon industry, but more time is needed to realize this goal."

Klimeck says despite the hurdles, the single-atom transistor is an important development.

"This opens eyes because it is a device that behaves like metal in silicon. This will lead to many more discoveries."

The research project spanned the globe and was the result of many years of effort.

"When I established this program 10 years ago, many people thought it was impossible with too many technical hurdles. However, on reading into the literature I could not see any practical reason why it would not be possible," Simmons says. "Brute determination and systemic studies were necessary - as well as having many outstanding students and postdoctoral researchers who have worked on the project."

Klimeck notes that modern collaboration and community-building tools such as nanoHUB played an important role.

"This was a trans-Pacific collaboration that came about through the community created in nanoHUB. Now Purdue graduate students spend time studying at the University of New South Wales, and their students travel to Purdue to learn more about nanotechnology. It has been a rewarding collaboration, both for the scientific discoveries and for the personal relationships that were formed."

Writer:  Steve Tally, 765-494-9809,, Twitter: sciencewriter

Sources:  Michelle Simmons, 0425 336 756

                  Gerhard Klimeck, 765-494-9212,

                 University of New South Wales media contact: Mary O'Malley, 0438 881 124,

VIDEO:

University of New South Wales video on discovery:  

Related websites:

ABSTRACT

A Single-Atom Transistor

The ability to control matter at the atomic scale and build devices with atomic precision is central to nanotechnology. The scanning tunneling microscope can manipulate individual atoms and molecules on surfaces, but the manipulation of silicon to make atomic-scale logic circuits has been hampered by the covalent nature of its bonds. Resist-based strategies have allowed the formation of atomic-scale structures on silicon surfaces, but the fabrication of working devices - such as transistors with extremely short gate lengths, spin-based quantum computers and solitary dopant opteolectronic devices - requires the ability to position individual atoms in a silicon crystal with atomic precision. Here we use a combination of scanning tunnelling microscopy and hydrogen-resist lithography to demonstrate a single-atom transistor in which an individual phosphorus dopant atom has been deterministically placed within an epitaxial silicon device architecture with a spatial accuracy of one lattice site. The transistor operates at liquid helium temperatures, and millikelvin electron transport measurements confirm the presence of discrete quantum levels in the energy spectrum of the phosphorus atom, with a charging energy that is close to the bulk value. Previously, this has only been observed by optical spectroscopy.

 

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Zahra Doejune 2, 2017
Morbi gravida, sem non egestas ullamcorper, tellus ante laoreet nisl, id iaculis urna eros vel turpis curabitur.
Zahra Doejune 2, 2017
Morbi gravida, sem non egestas ullamcorper, tellus ante laoreet nisl, id iaculis urna eros vel turpis curabitur.
Zahra Doejune 2, 2017
Morbi gravida, sem non egestas ullamcorper, tellus ante laoreet nisl, id iaculis urna eros vel turpis curabitur.

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