Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Quantum Interference May Be Key to Smaller Insulators: Breakthrough could jumpstart further miniaturization of transistors

Illustration of the silicon-based single-molecule device that functions as an efficient insulator through a sigma-based quantum interference effect. Haixing Li/Columbia Engineering
Illustration of the silicon-based single-molecule device that functions as an efficient insulator through a sigma-based quantum interference effect. Haixing Li/Columbia Engineering

Abstract:
Ever shrinking transistors are the key to faster and more efficient computer processing. Since the 1970s, advancements in electronics have largely been driven by the steady pace with which these tiny components have grown simultaneously smaller and more powerful—right down to their current dimensions on the nanometer scale. But recent years have seen this progress plateau, as researchers grapple with whether transistors may have finally hit their size limit. High among the list of hurdles standing in the way of further miniaturization: problems caused by “leakage current.”

Quantum Interference May Be Key to Smaller Insulators: Breakthrough could jumpstart further miniaturization of transistors

New York, NY | Posted on June 6th, 2018


Leakage current results when the gap between two metal electrodes narrows to the point that electrons are no longer contained by their barriers, a phenomenon known as quantum mechanical tunnelling. As the gap continues to decrease, this tunnelling conduction increases at an exponentially higher rate, rendering further miniaturization extremely challenging. Scientific consensus has long held that vacuum barriers represent the most effective means to curtail tunnelling, making them the best overall option for insulating transistors. However, even vacuum barriers can allow for some leakage due to quantum tunnelling.
In a highly interdisciplinary collaboration, researchers across Columbia Engineering, Columbia University Department of Chemistry, Shanghai Normal University, and the University of Copenhagen have upended conventional wisdom, synthesizing the first molecule capable of insulating at the nanometer scale more effectively than a vacuum barrier. Their findings are published online today in Nature.
“We’ve reached the point where it’s critical for researchers to develop creative solutions for redesigning insulators. Our molecular strategy represents a new design principle for classic devices, with the potential to support continued miniaturization in the near term,” said Columbia Engineering physicist and co-author Latha Venkataraman, who heads the lab where researcher Haixing Li conducted the project’s experimental work. Molecular synthesis was carried out in the Colin Nuckolls Lab at Columbia’s Department of Chemistry, in partnership with Shengxiong Xiao at Shanghai Normal University.
The team’s insight was to exploit the wave nature of electrons. By designing an extremely rigid silicon-based molecule under 1 nm in length that exhibited comprehensive destructive interference signatures, they devised a novel technique for blocking tunnelling conduction at the nanoscale.
“This quantum interference-based approach sets a new standard for short insulating molecules,” said lead author Marc Garner, a chemist in the University of Copenhagen’s Solomon Lab, which handled the theoretical work. “Theoretically, interference can lead to complete cancellation of tunneling probability, and we’ve shown that the insulating component in our molecule is less conducting than a vacuum gap of same dimensions. At the same time, our work also improves on recent research into carbon-based systems, which were thought to be the best molecular insulators until now.”
Destructive quantum interference occurs when the peaks and valleys of two waves are placed exactly out of phase, annulling oscillation. Electronic waves can be thought of as analogous to sound waves—flowing through barriers just as sound waves “leak” through walls. The unique properties exhibited by the team’s synthetic molecule mitigated tunneling without requiring, in this analogy, a thicker wall.
Their silicon-based strategy also presents a potentially more factory-ready solution. While recent research into carbon nanotubes holds promise for industrial applications over the next decade or so, this insulator—compatible with current industry standards—could be more readily implemented.
“Congratulations to the team on this breakthrough,” said Mark Ratner, a pioneer in the field of molecular electronics and professor emeritus at Northwestern University who was not involved in the study. “Using interference to create an insulator has been ignored up to this date. This paper demonstrates the ability of interference, in a silicon-based sigma system, which is quite impressive.”
This breakthrough grew out of the team’s larger project on silicon-based molecule electronics, begun in 2010. The group arrived at their latest discovery by bucking the trend. Most research in this field aims to create highly conducting molecules, as low conductance is rarely considered a desirable property in electronics. Yet insulating components may actually prove to be of greater value to future optimization of transistors, due to the inherent energy inefficiencies caused by leakage currents in smaller devices.
As a result, their work has yielded new understanding of the fundamental underlying mechanisms of conduction and insulation in molecular scale devices. The researchers will build on this insight by next clarifying the details of structure-function relationships in silicon-based molecular components.
“This work has been extremely gratifying for us, because in the course of it we have repeatedly discovered new phenomena,” said Venkataraman. “We have previously shown that silicon molecular wires can function as switches, and now we’ve demonstrated that by altering their structure, we can create insulators. There is a lot to be learned in this area that will help shape the future of nanoscale electronics.”

####

About Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
Columbia Engineering, based in New York City, is one of the top engineering schools in the U.S. and one of the oldest in the nation. Also known as The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School expands knowledge and advances technology through the pioneering research of its more than 200 faculty, while educating undergraduate and graduate students in a collaborative environment to become leaders informed by a firm foundation in engineering. The School’s faculty are at the center of the University’s cross-disciplinary research, contributing to the Data Science Institute, Earth Institute, Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Precision Medicine Initiative, and the Columbia Nano Initiative. Guided by its strategic vision, “Columbia Engineering for Humanity,” the School aims to translate ideas into innovations that foster a sustainable, healthy, secure, connected, and creative humanity.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Holly Evarts
Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations
212-854-3206 (o)
347-453-7408 (c)

Copyright © Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

About the Study

Related News Press

News and information

Color effects from transparent 3D printed nanostructures: New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D print templates for user-given colors Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference August 18th, 2018

Novel nanoparticle-based approach detects and treats oral plaque without drugs August 17th, 2018

UVA multidisciplinary engineering team designs technology for smart materials: The invention could lead to devices and manufactured goods, such as fabrics, that can dynamically regulate between thermally insulating and cooling August 17th, 2018

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte: Milestone of energy efficiency in information technology -- Publication in Advanced Materials August 17th, 2018

Quantum Physics

How hot is Schrödinger's coffee? August 15th, 2018

Breaking down the Wiedemann-Franz law: In a study exploring the coupling between heat and particle currents in a gas of strongly interacting atoms, physicists at ETH Zurich find puzzling behaviours August 10th, 2018

Quantum chains in graphene nanoribbons: Breakthrough in nanoresearch August 9th, 2018

Chemistry

Flipping the switch on supramolecular electronics August 14th, 2018

Nanoscience and the future of healthcare kick off first day of ACS national meeting in Boston: Presidential events highlight safety, diversity and groundbreaking research August 2nd, 2018

Hardware

Building nanomaterials for next-generation computing: Scientists recently developed a blueprint to fabricate new nanoheterostructures using 2D materials June 1st, 2018

Novel method to fabricate nanoribbons from speeding nano droplets May 29th, 2018

Switching with molecules: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices May 25th, 2018

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat May 18th, 2018

Possible Futures

Color effects from transparent 3D printed nanostructures: New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D print templates for user-given colors Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference August 18th, 2018

Novel nanoparticle-based approach detects and treats oral plaque without drugs August 17th, 2018

UVA multidisciplinary engineering team designs technology for smart materials: The invention could lead to devices and manufactured goods, such as fabrics, that can dynamically regulate between thermally insulating and cooling August 17th, 2018

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte: Milestone of energy efficiency in information technology -- Publication in Advanced Materials August 17th, 2018

Chip Technology

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte: Milestone of energy efficiency in information technology -- Publication in Advanced Materials August 17th, 2018

Scientists create antilaser for ultracold atoms condensate August 16th, 2018

Flipping the switch on supramolecular electronics August 14th, 2018

Breaking down the Wiedemann-Franz law: In a study exploring the coupling between heat and particle currents in a gas of strongly interacting atoms, physicists at ETH Zurich find puzzling behaviours August 10th, 2018

Nanoelectronics

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte: Milestone of energy efficiency in information technology -- Publication in Advanced Materials August 17th, 2018

Flipping the switch on supramolecular electronics August 14th, 2018

Quantum chains in graphene nanoribbons: Breakthrough in nanoresearch August 9th, 2018

Nanotube 'rebar' makes graphene twice as tough: Rice University scientists test material that shows promise for flexible electronics August 3rd, 2018

Discoveries

Color effects from transparent 3D printed nanostructures: New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D print templates for user-given colors Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference August 18th, 2018

Novel nanoparticle-based approach detects and treats oral plaque without drugs August 17th, 2018

UVA multidisciplinary engineering team designs technology for smart materials: The invention could lead to devices and manufactured goods, such as fabrics, that can dynamically regulate between thermally insulating and cooling August 17th, 2018

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte: Milestone of energy efficiency in information technology -- Publication in Advanced Materials August 17th, 2018

Announcements

Color effects from transparent 3D printed nanostructures: New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D print templates for user-given colors Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference August 18th, 2018

Novel nanoparticle-based approach detects and treats oral plaque without drugs August 17th, 2018

UVA multidisciplinary engineering team designs technology for smart materials: The invention could lead to devices and manufactured goods, such as fabrics, that can dynamically regulate between thermally insulating and cooling August 17th, 2018

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte: Milestone of energy efficiency in information technology -- Publication in Advanced Materials August 17th, 2018

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Color effects from transparent 3D printed nanostructures: New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D print templates for user-given colors Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference August 18th, 2018

Novel nanoparticle-based approach detects and treats oral plaque without drugs August 17th, 2018

UVA multidisciplinary engineering team designs technology for smart materials: The invention could lead to devices and manufactured goods, such as fabrics, that can dynamically regulate between thermally insulating and cooling August 17th, 2018

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte: Milestone of energy efficiency in information technology -- Publication in Advanced Materials August 17th, 2018

Research partnerships

Color effects from transparent 3D printed nanostructures: New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D print templates for user-given colors Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference August 18th, 2018

UVA multidisciplinary engineering team designs technology for smart materials: The invention could lead to devices and manufactured goods, such as fabrics, that can dynamically regulate between thermally insulating and cooling August 17th, 2018

Breaking down the Wiedemann-Franz law: In a study exploring the coupling between heat and particle currents in a gas of strongly interacting atoms, physicists at ETH Zurich find puzzling behaviours August 10th, 2018

Yale-NUS scientist and collaborators solve open theoretical problem on electron interactions August 10th, 2018

Quantum nanoscience

How hot is Schrödinger's coffee? August 15th, 2018

Breaking down the Wiedemann-Franz law: In a study exploring the coupling between heat and particle currents in a gas of strongly interacting atoms, physicists at ETH Zurich find puzzling behaviours August 10th, 2018

Quantum chains in graphene nanoribbons: Breakthrough in nanoresearch August 9th, 2018

World-first quantum computer simulation of chemical bonds using trapped ions: Quantum chemistry expected to be one of the first applications of full-scale quantum computers July 25th, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project