Supervisor: Dr. Joe Smerdon
Moore’s law states that computer power doubles every eighteen months. The main technological improvement behind this is miniaturisation. The current process constructs circuits with minimum feature size around 12 nm. This is very impressive, but we can’t get much smaller because in 12 nm, there are only about 100 atoms. So the ultimate granularity of matter is soon going to impact on our ability to miniaturise. This is because all of our electronics rely on properties of ‘bulk’ material. These properties change drastically when we start trying to build things with single atoms.
We need to find a so-called bottom-up way to construct circuits, using the properties of molecules (which are inherently semiconducting) to replicate the properties of our old silicon semiconductors. This area of study is called molecular electronics. The fundamental building block of semiconductor electronics is the p-n junction, or diode.
Our research group has recently constructed the highest performing molecular-scale diodes ever observed. (Just type smerdon rectification into Google Scholar). The PhD project involves pursuing this promising research route to understanding the structure and function of molecular electronics devices on the smallest scales.
Keywords: UHV, scanning tunneling microscopy, fullerenes, molecules