Molecular Switch

Monday, 24 February, 2003

A molecular switch took only 47 zepto-joules to operate in a recent experiment, 10,000 times less than transistor switches used in current high-speed computers. The molecular switch consists of rotating one of the four phenyl legs attached to a complicated porphyrin molecule from one stable position to another.

A group of scientist from the University of Basle, IBM Zurich, and the CEME-CNRS Lab in Toulouse used an atomic force microscope (AFM) tip both to rotate the leg and to measure the force expended and energy used. The use of a single chemical bond as a switch would greatly reduce the power dissipation in electronic circuits, but this new development will take time to implement, along with other molecular-electronic elements.

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