Thomas Schimmel, Professor of Physics at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and his team have developed a single-atom transistor, the smallest transistor ever.
This newly developed quantum electron component allows the electric current to be changed by a single atom-controlled repositioning. A single-atom transistor operates at room temperature and consumes very little energy, which opens up completely new perspectives for information technology. In industrialized countries, information technology now has a share of more than 10% in total power consumption.
Even a low-cost USB memory that is sold on the market includes several billion transistors, even though the transistor is the central component of digital data processing in embedded systems for many applications on computers, in smartphones or in washing machines. In the future, the single-atom transistor developed by Professor Thomas Schimmel and his team can significantly improve energy efficiency in information technology. Schimmel used the phrase "This quantum electronic device makes it possible to spend less energy than traditional silicon technologies". Professor Schimmel, who was considered the forerunner of the one-atomic electron, was appointed earlier this year as Co-Director of the Atomic Electronics and Photonics Center jointly established by KIT and ETH Zurich.
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The world's smallest transistor flows through a controlled reversal of a single atom. Unlike conventional quantum electronic components, a single-atom transistor does not only operate at absolute zero, that is, at very low temperatures around -273 ° C, but also at room temperature. These features are a great advantage for future applications. The single-atom transistor is based on a completely new technical approach. The transistor is made only of metal and no semiconductors are used. This results in extremely low electrical voltages and hence a very low energy consumption.