World’s smallest electric wire developed, 4 atoms wide, for future quantum computer use

By on Jan 7, 2012 in Amazing, Australia, Science Comments

A team of scientists have recently designed the so-called world’s smallest electric wire, which is 1 atom tall and 4 atoms wide, and could be used for future quantum computers.



Computational simulation of wires, showing
electron density as electrons flow

Image Credit: Sunhee Lee, Hoon Ryu and
Gerhard Klimeck/Purdue University

As noted at Purdue.edu on Friday, January 6, 2012, the ultra-thin electric wire is 10,000 times thinner than human hair, or around 20 times smaller than the copper wire inside a microprocessor.

According to the report, the world’s thinnest electric wire in silicon was developed by a group of researchers from the University of New South Wales, Melbourne University and Purdue University.

“It’s extraordinary to show that Ohm’s Law, such a basic law, still holds even when constructing a wire from the fundamental building blocks of nature – atoms,” Bent Weber, the paper’s lead author, was quoted as saying, whose report was also published at journal Science on the same day.

Weber, who was a graduate student Center of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at the University of New South Wales, noted that he was thrilled with the project.

Experiments reportedly revealed that the nano-thin wire has the same electric power and efficiency with the conventional electric wires, despite its size; but could be cheaper since they are made atom by atom instead of material-stripping.

“Typically we chip or etch material away, which can be very expensive, difficult and inaccurate,” Gerhard Klimeck, director of a Purdue University‘s Network for Computational Nanotechnology, said on the report.

“But this experimental group built devices by placing atomically thin layers of phosphorus in silicon and found that with densely doped phosphorus wires just four atoms wide it acts like a wire that conducts just as well as metal.” Klimeck added, who is also part of the study.

This recent discovery is being expected to play a vital role in the future of ‘quantum computing‘, in which computer scientists and physicists can benefit a lot in the development of future quantum computers.



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