Scientists build working transistor from single atom

Jeff Hargarten

Physicists have designed a functional transistor from a single phosphorus atom and a silicon crystal, The New York Times reported.

Scientists at the University of South Wales and Purdue University said the breakthrough could lay the groundwork for nanotechology-based quantum computers vastly faster than today's devices.

Today's transistors work based on simple "on" and "off" (or 1 and 0) binary patterns that comprise digital information. In contrast, the quantum transistors work based on "qubits" that exploit the properties of quantum mechanics and can hold multiple values at once.

Previous quantum transistors, which have been around since 2002, have been hit-or-miss and somewhat flawed. Scientists said this new transistor is "perfect" with precision and accuracy not previously seen in the technology.

The scientists' study was published Sunday in the journal of Nature Nanotechnology.