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Smallest Silicon Wire Not Dominated by Quantum Mechanics

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 04:23PM

Researchers at University of New South Wales, Melbourne University and Purdue University have recently created the smallest silicon wire ever. At 4 atoms wide by 1 atom tall, and at only 4.2 K the scientists involved expected to find quantum mechanics dominating the conduction of the wire. Instead the classical Ohm's Law was still working. This is great news for traditional computers, which are continually approaching the limit of classical mechanics, but not for quantum computers.

Quantum computers rely on quantum mechanical phenomena like superposition, but a wire still using classical mechanics could cause the superposition to end. This would make the quantum computer no better than an electronic computer, but the researchers do believe wires a single atom thick may still work.

Electronic computer manufacturers should not be rejoicing just yet. Moore's Law may celebrate this finding, but the method used to create the nanowires is quite different than the current etching processes used. Instead of taking material away, the research made the wires by placing single atoms exactly where they needed to be. Still, if wires this small will still work, I'm sure someone will figure out how to mass produce them.

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