Dr Damien Thompson from the Department of Physics & Energy and the Bernal Institute is part of an international research team that has cracked an important limitation that for nearly 20 years has prevented the practical use of molecular diodes.
Molecular diodes are seen as a potential replacement for traditional silicon diodes in electrical circuits. This would pave the way for the miniaturisation of computers and other electronics. Diodes are characterized by their rectification ratio, which is the rate between current for positive and negative electrical bias. A barrier to the use of molecular diodes has been the perceived theoretical limitation of the rectification ratio of molecular diodes.
The findings of the research team, published in Nature Nanotechnology, demonstrated a way to reach a rectification ratio that had previously been thought a theoretical impossibility.
"It surpassed that limit imposed by theory. Definitively, you now have a molecular diode that responds comparably to silicon-based diodes," said University of Central Florida Professor Enrique del Barco, a physicist who interpreted the data and performed the theoretical modeling that explained how it works. "It moves something that was only science into a commercial possibility."
The breakthrough isn't likely to replace silicon diodes, but could eventually bring about the use of molecular diodes for applications that silicon diodes can't handle. And molecular diodes, which can be produced in a chemistry lab, would be cheaper and easier to fabricate than standard diodes.