Physicists Create a Working Transistor From a Single Atom - John Markoff via


Scientists are exploring the ‘room at the bottom’ that Richard Fyenman alluded too, years ago, down in the infinitesimal space of quantum computing.

John Markoff via

Australian and American physicists have built a working transistor from a single phosphorus atom embedded in a silicon crystal.

The group of physicists, based at the University of New South Wales and Purdue University, said they had laid the groundwork for a futuristic quantum computer that might one day function in a nanoscale world and would be orders of magnitude smaller and quicker than today’s silicon-based machines.


here have been a series of recent technical advances that suggest that engineers will not hit a wall ending the advance in computer performance any time soon. In January, the Purdue and New South Wales researchers reported in the journal Science that they were able to create silicon nanowires that were just a single atom thick and four atoms wide by assembling thin strands of phosphorus atoms.

Combining the two advances indicates that they have made progress at assembling the basic building blocks of a new ultra-small generation of nanoelectronics that would be assembled from the bottom up.

Also in January, scientists at I.B.M.’s Almaden Research Center used similar techniques to store and retrieve digital 1’s and 0’s from an array of just 12 atoms in an advance that demonstrated the fundamental limits of the magnetic storage of digital information.

Lot’s of room down there for Moore’s Law to remain operative, and in a decade, we might be asking each other ‘how many qubits does you computer have?’ instead of megabytes or RAM.

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