Scientists led by Professor Mark Reed have presented the world’s first transistor made from a single molecule. The minimal transistor was created after more than decade of work on finding techniques for transforming molecules into transistors, where the final choice fell on a single and quite simple benzene molecule. The benzene molecule could, when attached to two gold connectors, act like a regular silicon transistor.
The scientists could manipulate the energy state by applying voltage through the gold connectors and in that way control the flow of the current passing through the molecule.
”It’s like rolling a ball up and over a hill, where the ball represents electrical current and the height of the hill represents the molecule’s different energy states[…] […]We were able to adjust the height of the hill, allowing current to get through when it was low, and stopping the current when it was high.”
That the silicon transistors of today will be running into problems sooner and sooner as the manufacturing technologies shrink is not news, but unfortunately this doesn’t look like the answer right now. Using molecule transistors in circuits, or computers for that matters, is decades away. We’re keeping our fingers crossed this will happen though, it’s pretty cool to see a single organic molecule act like the very fundamental element of modern computing.