A new type of switch could be a breakthrough for molecular computing

A team of researchers at Yale University say they’ve built a single-molecule switch, a big step on the road to even smaller computers. Professor Mark Reed demonstrated the “single-molecule electret” on October 12th, which was able to switch from one stable state to another. This involved the insertion of a Gadolinium atom inside a carbon buckyball, and then applied an electric field, activating and deactivating the switch.

Reed worked in partnership with researchers from Rensselaer Poly, as well as the universities of Nanjing, Renmin and Xiamen. He said that the “module is acting as if it has two stable polarization states,” and it’s even possible to use it to “make a memory of it.” That means there’s a small possibility that, in the future, it could be possible to build CPUs and memory chips at a molecular scale.