Published: February 24th, 2000

IBM developing atom-scale circuits

IBM scientists have discovered a way to transport information on the atomic scale using the wave nature of electrons instead of conventional wiring. This “quantum mirage” effect may enable data transfer within future nanoscale electronic circuits that are too small to use wires. As shown here, an elliptical ring of 36 cobalt atoms contains a single atom of magnetic cobalt (the purple peak) at one of the two focus points of the ring. Some of that atom’s properties are reflected to the other focus, where no atom exists. The effect is similar to the phenomenon whereby sound waves are focused by parabolic reflectors or “whisper spots” in buildings that allow faint sounds to be heard across a great distance. The IBM scientists said significant improvements are needed before the quantum mirage method becomes useful in actual circuits, however, because making each ellipse is far too slow to be useful at the moment.

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