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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Putting the right spin on nano-electronics

Research, Information, New technologies, Co-op & Development,Research centres,Universities,

News Thanks to a quantum physics breakthrough, European and American physicists are, electron-by-electron, pushing back the resistance barriers stifling current generation computers and high-speed, high-powered electronics.

But as fundamental researchers, they say their work is not about end products, but the thrill of discovery. Danish physicists provide a fundamental building block in molecular electronics. Could we, one day, mix transistors in a test tube? © PhotoDisc Danish physicists provide a fundamental building block in molecular electronics. Could we, one day, mix transistors in a test tube? © PhotoDisc Today, all electronics are based on transistors, and they are getting smaller, faster and more powerful – a trend likely to continue in light of recent news reported in a July issue of Nature Physics. Two Danish physicists at the Copenhagen University (CU) have mastered a technique for migrating electrons in a nano-transistor. Using quantum physics, the scientists have got the electrons at either end of a carbon nano-tube 'talking' to each other in perfect pitch. Jens Paaske of the Nano-Science Centre and Niels Bohr Institute at CU, who was responsible for the theoretical part of the experiment, said the breakthrough was made possible thanks to excellent collaboration with his experimental colleague Jesper Nygård of the Niels Bohr Institute and colleagues at Universität Karslruhe, Germany, and Harvard University, USA. A relationship borne out of friendship and international training. The second factor is that, by controlling the spin over the electrons – pure quantum electronics – you are then controlling it well enough to manipulate a “quantum bit”, which is the basic building block in a ‘quantum computer'. Significant research efforts worldwide are being put into the quest to develop this quantum computer. While it is still at the vision stage, the result from Copenhagen shows that the necessary quantum properties can be realised in a nanotube transistor at low temperatures. Nygård says discovering how to control the way electrons move through nano-transistors is all the more satisfying as it is a shared experience built on years of work spanning two continents. Guided by the work of Harvard professor Charlie Marcus in the field of quantum electronics, Nygård returned to Denmark and began what turned out to be a very successful partnership with Paaske, resulting in a worldwide breakthrough in quantum nano-electronics. In another example of international collaboration, Paaske has also been taking part in the EU-funded CANEL project, which is a three-country – Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands – tie up to integrate carbon-based nano-electromechanical devices into silicon technology. The 36-month project, funded to the tune of €1.8 million by the EU's Information Society Technologies programme, kicked off in 2004 and is focusing on applications in information technology, such as switches and memory elements.

Source :  DG Research


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