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Molecular transistors switches with only one electron

In cooperation with researchers at the University of Zurich and the IBM Research Laboratory in Rüschlikon, Robert Stadler of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the Vienna University of Technology developed a transistor which functions in a fundamentally different way and consists of only one molecule. This transistor is an organometallic molecule designed by chemists in Zurich. They placed a molybdenum atom in the middle of it. Like a silicon transistor, such a molecule also lets itself be switched between two different states. The conductivity of the two states shows a thousand-fold difference.  Such a huge factor “has not been achieved up until now with molecular transistors”, Stadtler explained. 

Complicated computer simulations at the Vienna Scientific Cluster (VSC) could decode the processes in the molecule on a quantum physical level. It was demonstrated that the single electron was responsible for the switching in the molybdenum atom. The technology is not suitable for commercial purposes. However, IBM is already working on concepts to apply several such molecules in nanopores to a silicon chip so that they will function under normal environmental conditions i.e. at room temperature. 

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