Scientists have achieved an incredible feat of nanoengineering, creating a single atom transistor. The Physicists at the University of New South Wales could have build the foundation for scalable quantum computing.
This transistor is composed of a single phosphorous 31 isotope which has been placed on a base of silicon using a Scanning Tunneling Microscope in an ultra high vacuum chamber. The experiment has been published in Nature Nanotechology.
The big achievement is in the accurate positioning of the individual phosphorous atoms. Confirmation was received that the atom was exactly were it should be placed. When factoring in a positioning margin of error at 10nm this is an impressive feat.
Dr Martin Fuechsle said in a press release “Our group has proved that it is really possible to position one phosphorus atom in a silicon environment – exactly as we need it – with near-atomic precision, and at the same time register gates.”
Forbes add “Some physicists have conjectured that the two possible nuclear spins of P-31 make it ideal for use as the basis for solid-state quantum computing. That’s especially true because if phosphorous and silicon are used, it’s conceivable that techniques used are compatible with CMOS systems used in today’s computers.
Despite the small size of the transistor, the team was able to confirm that the electrodes present on the silicon were contacting the transistor, and also confirmed that they were able to successfully change the quantum states of the atom – which means that it can be successfully used as a transistor.
As amazing an achievement as this is, this is only the start of providing a basis for either conventional or quantum computing. Researchers will need to build off of this technology to develop chips comprised of many P-31 transistors that are able to be used for computation. Even once that’s achieved, we’re still a long way from using chips based on this transistor in your home. Scanning Tunneling Microscopy is a pretty powerful tool for positioning individual atoms, but it’s also incredibly expensive to use as a basis for manufacturing.”
Kitguru says: The ramifications of this for the future are very exciting.