Researchers create working transistor from a single atom

With the first-of-its-kind creation of a working transistor from one single atom, physicists from the University of New South Wales have recorded an astounding accomplishment which has the potential to give a notable boost to computing power in the future.

According to a report in the nanotechnology journal Nature Nanotechnology, even though there have been earlier reports about `accidental' creation of single-atom transistors using silicon, the new feat is astonishing because the researchers have been successful in isolating and positioning a single atom perfectly onto a silicon chip, thus enhancing the chances of usability of the a single-atom transistor in computers and other practical-use products. The mechanism which the researchers used for creating a working transistor from a single atom involved the use of a `scanning tunneling microscope' - which facilitates precise atom manipulation - with which a narrow channel was etched into a silicon base.

After that, the researchers deployed phosphine gas, for carrying an isolated `phosphorous' atom to a desired area between two electrodes; and then passes an electric current through the device. The electric current amplified and switched electrical signals, just the way any other working transistor does. Noting that single atom transistors have thus far been created more or less by chance in laboratories, lead researchers Michelle Simmons said: "This is the first time anyone has shown control of a single atom in a substrate with this level of precise accuracy."