Boffins boasts of breakthrough in “slidetronics” allowing a binary switch only two atoms thick


Apple’s latest fondleslab is thin, of course, but it could be thinner – like what Tel Aviv University boffins called “the smallest tech in the world,” measuring just two atoms thick. .

“Our research stems from the curiosity for the behavior of atoms and electrons in solid materials,” said Moshe Ben Shalom, PhD, responsible for the construction of the Tel Aviv University laboratory for two-dimensional layered materials, ” which has generated many technologies supporting our way of life. “

Certainly, describing what Ben Shalom and his colleagues have created as “technology” puts it in the same space as an Apple iPad in the widest possible way. Far from being something you could slip into – or through – your pocket for a cheeky search of El Reg on the go, this is an example of the most basic of technologies: a binary switch.

Compared to the switches that power a modern processor, it is clear that the team presented their work as a breakthrough: where cutting-edge examples today have a side of a hundred atoms, resulting in a total volume of d ‘one million atoms, the switch created by Ben Shalom and his colleagues is two atoms in total.

The technology, dubbed “slidetronics,” consists of stacked layers of single-atom boron and nitrogen sheets arranged in a repeating hexagonal grid – much like graphene, the oft-praised but rarely-marketed miracle material made from of single atom carbon sheets. Quite carefully stacked, the two slide so that they perfectly cover half of their atoms – opposite to opposite.

“The break in symmetry that we created in the lab, which does not exist in the natural crystal, forces the electric charge to rearrange itself between the layers and generate a tiny internal electrical polarization perpendicular to the plane of the layer,” explained study leader Maayan Wizner Stern.

“When we apply an external electric field in the opposite direction, the system slides sideways to change the orientation of the polarization. The switched polarization remains stable even when the external field is turned off. In this, the system is similar to three-dimensional ferroelectric systems. thick, which are widely used in technology today.

Its inventors say the new switch could be the basis for a radical change in electronic performance, increasing the speed and energy efficiency of devices while significantly reducing their size compared to current systems. However, they did not offer a time frame for the technology to leave the lab.

The article was published in the journal Science. ®

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