• Researchers from the University of Oviedo use Molecular Electronics to improve computers and smartphones

    September 16, 2014

    Designing molecular switches with graphene will lead to an improvement in the speed of these devices and a reduction of their size

    Víctor Manuel García and Jaime Ferrer at the Campus of Llamaquique.

    Achieving smaller and more efficient computers and smartphones. This is one of the challenges that molecular electronics faces as one of the cutting-edge fields of nanotechnological research. Researchers from the University of Oviedo are working on the design of molecular switches that lead to an increase in the speed of electronic devices and a reduction of their size thanks to the interaction of certain molecules with graphene.

    The project entitled Design and Modelling of New Nanotechnological Devices is funded by the Ministry of Economics and Competitiveness. The team lead by Tenured Professor Jaime Ferrer of the Department of Physics of the University of Oviedo is working on the theoretical development of switches and other molecular devices based on graphene threads instead of gold.

    Molecular switches aspire to replace transistors as the basic components of computers and smartphones, among other devices. The development of molecular electronics is barely in its first stages and experts predict that the medium will be able to evolve the efficiency of computer devices. The replacement of transistors (based on silicon) by molecular switches (based on graphene) will increase the speed of the instruments.

    Molecular switches are composed by a layer placed between two threads of conductive material. Its position and reaction permit or forbid the flow of current with a greater or lesser fluidity. Researchers are working on explaining and improving this process in graphene-based switches. "Until now, the majority of switches have been designed with golden threads, but gold is an unstable material that generates too much noise when electricity is flowing in molecular electronic systems. Graphene is a more robust and reliable material, and that is why we thought that it could be a much more stable conductor", explains Víctor García, one of the physicists of the research team.

    The group led by Tenured Professor Jaime Ferrer is working with English and Dutch universities in one of the pioneering fields of nanotechnology

    The experts of the University of Oviedo are working on theoretical developments of these devices and collaborate with teams from the University of Liverpool (United Kingdom), the Technological University of Delf (Holland), the University of Lancaster (United Kingdom) and the University of Zaragoza. Chemists, physicists and engineers provide a cross-curricular approach for this ambitious project to design more efficient nanotechnological devices. The work of the Asturian researchers in this pioneering line of research has already been published in the prestigion Physical Review journal.

    Research Team:

    • Jaime Ferrer Rodríguez
    • Víctor Manuel García Suárez
    • Rubén Rodríguez Ferradás
    • Diego Carrascal Camino

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    Figure of a molecular bond of graphene. Design: Víctor Manuel García

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