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April 12th, 2004
Refining Semiconductors, One Atom at a Time
At the heart of semiconductor fabrication are crucial additives called dopants. These impurities change the electronic properties of silicon or other material to make the transistors and other components of a chip. Currently these dopants are added in bulk, their exact location usually no more a problem than the exact location of grains of baking soda or raisins stirred into cake batter. But a physicist has succeeded in controlling doping precisely at the atomic level. Michael F. Crommie, a professor of physics of the University of California at Berkeley, has attached single dopant atoms, one by one, to single molecules, thereby custom-tailoring their electronic properties.
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