New find could revolutionize electronics

A team of scientists from the University of Alberta have proven for the first time that a single molecule can switch electrical currents off and on, a puzzle that scientists worldwide have been trying to crack for decades.

The finding could mean a revolutionization in the field of electronics, providing huge leaps ahead for everything from computers, batteries, medical equipment, and more.

With a $1-million scanning tunnelling microscope which displays images on a computer screen, Robert Wolkow together with post-doctoral fellow Paul Piva and some others, showed how a single atom on a silicon surface can be controllably charged, while all the surrounding atoms remain neutral. When a molecule is placed close to that atom, it becomes a highway that transmits the current from one surface to another.

This potential technology is so efficient that "the question now about the battery life in your laptop would go away. Your battery today would run your computer all week or all month instead of three to four hours," said Wolkow in a statement.

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