Researchers at Curtin University have created a diode out of a tiny, super efficient single molecule. This incredible breakthrough means we can now make phones and laptops smaller than ever.
At this rate, our devices will soon be so small we'll lose them in our pockets.
Diodes are the the basic component of most modern electronic devices, responsible for directing electric currents. They allow currents to flow in one direction while blocking currents in the opposite direction.
Lead researcher Dr Nadim Darwish, from Curtin University's Department of Chemistry and Curtin Institute for Functional Molecules and Interfaces (CIFMI), 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 utilises a small organic molecule connected with a gold and a silicon electrode in a tiny circuit, measuring only one nanometer long – or about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair."
Dr Darwish says while the team is not the first to have created single-molecule diodes, this diode is much smaller and more efficient than any previously reported. Using their technology, we can fit more than ten thousand billion diodes onto a one centimetre square area of a silicon chip.
Dr Simone Ciampi, also from Curtin University, said the team of researchers was now focused on increasing the mechanical stability of the diodes.
"We have demonstrated that this molecular-scale diode can allow currents to pass in one direction 4000 times more efficiently than in the opposite direction, which is a leap towards creating single-molecule diodes of comparable efficiency to conventional diodes while also scaling down the size significantly," Dr Ciampi said.
The research team also included scientists from from the University of Barcelona and the University of New South Wales.