Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel may have created the world’s thinnest electronic device. The chip is only two atoms thick and could be used in the future to store digital data and information in more efficient computers.
The device has only two layers, one boron and one nitrogen, arranged in a repeating hexagonal structure. Using a mechanical effect known as quantum tunneling, atoms’ electrons are able to pass through the gap between the two layers, enabling digital encryption.
In high-end computers, processors contain tiny crystals with millions of atoms stacked in multiple layers. By transferring electrons through the gaps between these layers, the system is able to switch between the two binary states (0 and 1), forming bits.
“In its natural three-dimensional state, a crystal consists of a large number of layers placed on top of each other, and rotated 180 degrees relative to its neighbors. Now, we can artificially stack the layers in a parallel configuration with no rotation,” explains physicist Moshe Ben Shalom, co-author of the study.
In laboratory tests, researchers note that quantum tunneling allows electrons to pass through barriers previously considered insurmountable. This is because in quantum physics, particles that exist as waves moving on one side also have some possibility of being on the other side of the barrier.
This principle makes electrons able to jump between the boron and nitrogen layers in the device. Since these seams do not line up perfectly, they slip slightly away from the center of each other, loads are imposed from each of them. This causes the negatively charged electrons to move in opposite directions, resulting in a small electron polarization.
By modifying the way one layer interacts with the other, the scientists realized that the polarization could be reversed, shifting the device from one binary state to another. This property is essential for creating new electronic equipment capable of storing large amounts of data.
Lee de Mor
to the celebrity Lee de Mor The number of transistors on a microchip is expected to double every two years. But as manufacturers approach the limits of building chips, that rule begins to slow. According to specialists, the miniaturization of electronic components should reach the physical production barrier within a few years.
With this technology that uses only two layers of atoms, researchers hope that microchip fabrication will gain new impetus for the future, making it possible to create faster, less dense and more energy-efficient electronic devices.
“We hope that miniaturization and reversal of the system’s polarization by layer sliding will improve existing equipment, as well as allow other original ways to control and store information in devices that are still being invented,” completes doctoral student in physics Maayan Vizner Stern, lead author of the study.
Source: Tel Aviv University
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