Engineers build 'wires' one molecule wide

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Engineers build 'wires' one molecule wide

US researchers at the University of Pittsburgh claim to have created "the best method so far" of assembling wire-like structures only a single molecule wide.

The breakthrough is described as a significant step in attempts to reduce the circuitry size of electronic devices to the single molecule scale, and provide smaller, faster and more energy efficient electronics.

Hrvoje Petek, a professor of physics and chemistry at the School of Arts and Sciences at Pittsburgh, said that the project presents a template for assembling molecules over troughs that are only as wide as a single atom of copper.

The structures can be made to several times that length, matching wires currently used in computers and other devices.

These ultra-thin wires are one-dimensional, which may enable them to conduct electricity with minimal loss and thus improve the performance of an electronic device, according to Professor Petek.

The research centres on organic, carbon-based, ball-shaped carbon molecules known as fullerenes, but the method can serve as a template for creating the very tiny wires from a broad range of organic molecules.

Professor Petek explained that the merits of these wire-like structures can only be fully realised with organic molecules.

Materials used in contemporary electronics, such as silicon, are inorganic and cannot be miniaturised to be truly one-dimensional.

The findings were published today in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
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