back to article Much more Moore's Law, as boffins assemble atom-level transistor

The end times for Moore's Law aren't quite at hand, but we now know what the silicon-killer might look like: single-molecule transistors that can switch at the single electron level. That's what a multinational team of boffins working with the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) say they've created. The transistor consists of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Sueball

    That central molecule appears to have rounded corners, Apples lawyers will be in contact soon.

  2. Six_Degrees

    So, how big is it?

    1. Bronek Kozicki

      I would guess it is not that small. Size of single phthalocyanine molecule is apparently around 1nm, I would guess that what we have on the picture is not actually smaller than 10nm.

      1. bob, mon!

        "what we have on the picture is not actually smaller than 10nm."

        Perhaps not, but 10nm is the gate width (feature size) in 10nm technology. You've got the entire transistor in that picture.

  3. Antonymous Coward
    Childcatcher

    "12 positively-charged iridium atoms"

    Um, that'll be "twelve iridium ions" then.

    What an egregious waste of letters.

    1. PNGuinn
      Pint

      Re: "12 positively-charged iridium atoms"

      "What an egregious waste of atoms"

      There now - corrected it for you.

    2. CaptainBanjax

      Re: "12 positively-charged iridium atoms"

      Not if you play scrabble and cheat.

  4. Graham Marsden
    Coat

    Well, we've created this computer that uses single atoms for transistors...

    ... Great, so what's the drawback?

    Well you need to bring this Scanning Tunnelling Electron Microscope along with you...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Well, we've created this computer that uses single atoms for transistors...

      ...and we'll have to ask Tim about world iridium resources. At 12 atoms per transistor usage starts to mount up.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon
        Coat

        Re: Well, we've created this computer that uses single atoms for transistors...

        but can it play Crisis?

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Well, we've created this computer that uses single atoms for transistors...

        ...world iridium resources

        This might make mining asteroids worthwhile.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, we've created this computer that uses single atoms for transistors...

      Well, assuming that a small electron microscope has a footprint of 1m squared, a core i7 with a transistor count of 1,400,000,000 would fill a space measuring roughly 37.4km by 37.4km, so long as the interconnects are negligible in size.

      However, those of you worrying about the implications for Moore's law will be relieved to hear that scope has been identified for die size reduction by building a second story of floor space over the next two years, allowing the transistor count to be doubled. Further increases in transistor density may be possible with no further reduction in transistor size.

      If you need to ask about the performance per Watt, this is not the processor for you.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Well, we've created this computer that uses single atoms for transistors...

        A bit negative aren't we? I wonder what the performance of the world's first germanium alloy-junction transistor was like back in Bell labs?

        I find it hard to imagine that in a few decades, they'll be able to integrate maybe 20 to 200 billion of these on one small chip, along with all the wiring, and sell that chip for $100 or less. But on the other hand if you'd forseen the billion-transistor CPU back in 1960, few would have believed it was even a theoretical possibility, let alone reality in the late naughties.

        1. Grikath

          Re: Well, we've created this computer that uses single atoms for transistors...

          Ummm Nigel...

          As a proof of concept it's nice, and a SEM isn't as big as it used to be, but you still need a roomful of equipment ( assuming you want the vacuum pump in the same room, wear earplugs...) to make it go..

          Mind.. from an aspect of biology this thing is interesting, as it has the potential to answer some questions about the how-and-why of the molecular processes that make us go..

    3. PNGuinn
      Mushroom

      Re: Well, we've created this computer that uses single atoms for transistors...

      BORING.

      Call me when they've built one made entirely out of quarks. I want my free large Hadron Collider to talk to it. Oh, and a couple fast breeder reactors to power it.

  5. DropBear
    Joke

    Note: For best performance please keep your Molectronics™ - powered product a safe distance away from any bananas, self-lit watchfaces and / or those shoes you wore visiting Chernobyl last summer.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    Single-molecule transistors are on the map now

    So, in the time they'll take to nail that process down one can hope that the AI crowd will have made sufficient advances to finally start to work on the positronic brain.

    Let's get cracking, men.

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