Nanotechnology Could Lead to an On-Off Switch for Nanoelectronics

April 7, 2009
Nanotechnology could lead to an on-off switch for nanoelectronics

If electronic circuits are ever to get really small, as in nanotechnology small, engineers will need a host of even more miniscule components such as resistors, capacitors, and diodes. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California have taken a step in that direction, developing what could be an on-off switch for nanoelectronics.

The switch uses a gold tip on a scanning tunneling microscope poised just above a gold surface. By repeatedly dipping the tip into the surface, engineers at the lab found a way to insert a molecule between the tip and surface. Using techniques they developed, they could ensure the molecule was bipyridine, a benzenelike ring containing nitrogen.

Tests showed that this junction has two conductive states, which led researchers to correctly theorize that the states correlated to different configurations of the molecule between the tip and surface. When the molecule is vertical, conductance is low, but when the molecule is angled, conductance is higher.

Using STM technology, the team found that mechanically pushing the tip toward the surface makes the molecule consistently become angular or crooked. And pulling the tip away from the surface straightens the molecule. The researchers say this device could serve as a mechanical switch with well-defined on and off states.

They hope to expand their studies to include more complicated molecular junctions useful for organic photovoltaics and converting solar energy to electricity.

Sponsored Recommendations

The entire spectrum of drive technology

June 5, 2024
Read exciting stories about all aspects of maxon drive technology in our magazine.

MONITORING RELAYS — TYPES AND APPLICATIONS

May 15, 2024
Production equipment is expensive and needs to be protected against input abnormalities such as voltage, current, frequency, and phase to stay online and in operation for the ...

Solenoid Valve Mechanics: Understanding Force Balance Equations

May 13, 2024
When evaluating a solenoid valve for a particular application, it is important to ensure that the valve can both remain in state and transition between its de-energized and fully...

Solenoid Valve Basics: What They Are, What They Do, and How They Work

May 13, 2024
A solenoid valve is an electromechanical device used to control the flow of a liquid or gas. It is comprised of two features: a solenoid and a valve. The solenoid is an electric...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!