World’s smallest diode paves way for molecular electronic devices


Researchers working collaboratively between the University of Georgia, USA and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel have developed the world’s smallest diode. A diode is an essential component in electronic circuit construction and this particular one was made from a single DNA molecule. The researchers think that their work is “a significant milestone in the development of molecular electronic devices,” and one possible avenue to explore “to overcome Moore’s Law,”reports

 To make a DNA molecule into a working nanoscale diode (or molecular rectifier) the researchers took a single DNA molecule constructed from 11 base pairs and inserted ‘coralyne’ between the layers of DNA. This molecule was then connected to an electronic circuit only a few nanometres in size and in testing it worked as a diode. “In summary, we have constructed a molecular rectifier by intercalating specific, small molecules into designed DNA strands,” explained Prof. Bingqian Xu from the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia.

The research could have a big impact on the electronics and computing industries. “Creating and characterizing the world’s smallest diode is a significant milestone in the development of molecular electronic devices,” said Dr. Yonatan Dubi, a researcher in the BGU Department of Chemistry and Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology.

 Using predictable and reliable molecular components to push forward the emerging field of single molecule electronics could be a route to advancing the industry past the impending limits of silicon ICs. The ever-closer hard limit of silicon is slowing down the progress of electronics devices. As evidence of this slowdown we have recently seen Intel give up on its ‘tick-tock’ chip improvement era and move to a three step model of ‘Process-Architecture-Optimization’.