Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have demonstrated a prototype nanoscale electronic switch that works like lightning except for the speed. Their proof-of-concept experiments demonstrate that nanoscale electrical switches can be built from self-assembled layers of organic molecules on silver wires. Potential applications range from a replacement technology for magnetic data storage to integrated circuit memory devices. In the experiment, an extremely fine silver wire is coated with a molecule that forms a self-assembled monolayer on the wire, typically some organic molecule with a sulfur group on one end to bond to the silver. An equally fine gold wire is laid crosswise to the silver wire and a small voltage is applied across the two wires.When the voltage is increased to a critical level, silver ions form and quickly branch through the organic monolayer to the gold wire just like a lightning bolt except solid. When a silver filament reaches the gold, it forms a short circuit, causing a dramatic change in conductance, which is easily detectable. Reversing the voltage retracts the filament and "opens" the switch.
Source: physorg.comAdded: 23 March 2007