transistor is the foundation for the semiconductor industry and all
of our modern electronic miracles. The ability to shrink
transistors has led to cheaper and faster electronic
devices, as well as solid
state storage and digital photography.Australian
researchers have now created the world's smallest transistor,
consisting of only seven atoms arranged into a single silicon
crystal. It is fully functional and can regulate and control the flow
of electrical current, despite being only 4nm across."The
significance of this achievement is that we are not just moving atoms
around or looking at them through a microscope," says Professor
Michelle Simmons, a co-author of a paper on the subject that is being
published by Nature
The paper is entitled "Spectroscopy
of Few-Electron Single-Crystal Silicon Quantum Dots".
are manipulating individual atoms and placing them with atomic
precision, in order to make a working electronic device,"
elaborated Simmons. "We have replaced just seven individual
silicon atoms with phosphorus atoms. That is amazing exactness".The
research was primarily conducted at the University of New South
Wales' Centre for Quantum Computer Technology (CQCT) in Sydney, with
the assistance of researchers from the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. Simmons currently works as the Director of the
CQCT.The atoms were placed using a scanning tunneling
microscope, which operates on the concept of quantum tunneling.
Although it was first developed in 1981, it uses extremely
challenging techniques that require highly clean and stable surfaces,
exceptional vibration control, and sophisticated electronics.
Simmons' team is now applying those techniques towards their first
computing is expected to be the next big scientific leap,
and could revolutionize cryptography, weather forecasting, and
nuclear modeling amongst other