Researchers from Peking University create stable single molecule switch

The shelf life of the switch is upto 1 year. Previous attempts had miserable shelf lives.

Although the shrinking of electrical components have greatly boosted the power of gadgets and computers, shrinking them to a miniscule size has been challenging upto a point.

Researchers have now managed to surpass this barrier by creating electrical components to near-microscopic scales. In turn, molecular electronics have taken this quest to its logical end: constructing an electronic circuit from a single molecule.

Scientists from the Peking University of Beijing have managed to create a switch that can be switched ON and OFF with just one photon.

This development is a milestone in the development of light-powered computing as electrical components can be reliably switched on and off using light instead of electricity.

This is development in opto-electronics is significant since light travels faster than electricity, which, as you obviously have guessed, will produce faster computer systems.

Apart from this obvious advantage, this development could also greatly boost productions of solar panels, bio-medical applications and light sensors, as per Scientific American.

Previous attempts to create a single molecule component were wanting in their results as the switches they created either got stuck in the “on” position or couldn’t be activated by different types of light.

To overcome such issues, the researchers from Peking University used materials that allowed the switch to stabilise in either binary position and yet be activated by light.

Furthermore, the lifespan of earlier switches were insignificant. In this current setup, the switch can last for up to 1 year.

“In many cases, molecular junctions have lives of minutes, hours, or in fortunate cases days,” said Ioan Bâldea of the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Although it will take a couple of years before we see these kind of switches readily available in commercial products, the current development is important since it acts as a stepping stone towards building stable electronic components for tomorrow’s computing device.

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