Lund University in Sweden scientists have developed a simple hydrocarbon molecule with a logic gate function. It is similar to that in transistors. This innovation could make electric components on a molecular scale possible in the future. The study has been published in Nature Communications.
Manufacturing very small components is an important challenge in research. One example are transistors. The smaller they are, the faster and more energy efficient our computers become. The question is there a limit to how small logic gates can become? Is it possible to create electric machines on a molecular scale?
Many organic molecules consist of aromatic benzene rings. That is flat rings made up of six carbon atoms. A simple example can be graphene. These molecules do not change properties or shape if subjected to electric potential. Scientists chose to look at hydrocarbons made up of rings with eight carbon atoms. It is anti-aromatic and bent into a tub-shape. It flattens and goes from insulating to conducting, if two electrons are injected into such a molecule. This is a function similar to that of a transistor switching from 0 to 1.
Molecules are simple and it is unique aspect. They consist carbon and hydrogen atoms. This can make them easier to produce synthetically.
Scientists now can think about how to develop electrical switches and new mechanical systems at the single-molecule level. They will use anti-aromatic hydrocarbons.