Super-small diode could herald iPhones a million times more powerfulApr. 12, 2016
The iPhones and Android devices of a decade or two from now could be a million times more powerful than the ones on the market, thanks to research being done at Ben-Gurion University, in conjunction with the University of Georgia.
A joint Israel-US team has built the first “molecular diode,” an electrical conductor that was built out of a single DNA molecule, constructed from 11 base pairs – the smallest such component ever built, and a milestone in the emerging field of molecular electronics.
“We are still at the very beginning of this, but our work has demonstrated that electricity can be conducted through a molecular component – meaning that we could eventually build transistors that would let us put a million more transistors and components into the same form factors we have today,” said Dr. Yoni Dubi of the Department of Chemistry at Ben-Gurion University. “There are very few research labs in the the world that can do this, but now that we have demonstrated that it is possible, the next step is to try it on other components, with the goal building molecular-sized transistors and switches, among other things.”
Diodes are the second-most common component – after transistors – in electrical devices, and in fact are themselves building blocks of transistors (diodes are made of two layers of silicon, transistors three, and both are components of semiconductors). Diodes act as “gateways,” with electrical current running through them (either conducting the flow to a component, or blocking it, depending on how it is constructed).
In the BGU-UG experiment researchers took a DNA molecule constructed from 11 base pairs (much smaller than “standard” DNA molecules; a DNA strand has 3.2 billion base pairs), and connected it to an electronic circuit only a few nanometers large.