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A wire one atom tall, four atoms wide `created`

Last Updated: Saturday, January 7, 2012 - 13:08

Washington: Scientists claim to have created the smallest wires ever developed in silicon -- just one atom tall and four atoms wide.

An international team says that the wire has the same current-carrying capability as copper wires, and the discovery has several implications, the `Science` journal reported.

Experiments and atom-by-atom supercomputer models of the wires have found that the wires maintain a low capacity for resistance despite being more than 20 times thinner than conventional copper wires in microprocessors.

For engineers, it could provide a roadmap to future nanoscale computational devices where atomic sizes are at the end of Moore`s law. The theory shows that a single dense row of phosphorus atoms embedded in silicon will be the ultimate limit of downscaling, according to the team.

For computer scientists, it places donor-atom based silicon quantum computing closer to realisation, say the scientists from the University of New South Wales, Melbourne University and Purdue University.

And for physicists, the results show that Ohm`s Law which demonstrates the relationship between electrical current, resistance and voltage, continues to apply all the way down to
an atomic-scale wire.

Bent Weber at the University of New South Wales, who led the team, said: "It`s extraordinary to show that Ohm`s Law, such a basic law, still holds even when constructing a wire from the fundamental building blocks of nature -- atoms."

The goal of the research is to develop future quantum computers in which single atoms are used for the computation, said Michelle Simmons at the University of New South Wales and the project`s principal investigator.

"We are on the threshold of making transistors out of individual atoms. But to build a practical quantum computer we have recognised that the interconnecting wiring and circuitry also needs to shrink to the atomic scale," he said.


First Published: Saturday, January 7, 2012 - 13:08
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